Jesus confuses me sometimes. Most of the time.
Probably just because He’s not afraid to be real. He’s not afraid to abandon sugar-coating and he’s okay with saying things for how they are. He’s not afraid to offend for the sake of Truth. He’s not afraid to reach into the deepest, most painfully relevant piece of a soul. And I very much am.
I think that’s what caused such an issue when I read Matthew 15.
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
God’s been telling me to be more honest with Him. So my first reaction to reading this was a little like: God. No. What the heck is that. Really, Jesus? You just called her a dog. You know they have a name for female dogs, right? And it’s not a very nice name. Why would you do that? What justifies saying this to a person You made?
Like I’m one to question God.
So I knew there had to be a reason for using such a harsh analogy. And for being what I could only describe as withholding. I mean. If Jesus said that to me, I would literally have no reason to live. I would have no reason to keep trying, because I mean, being rejected by the One who isn’t supposed to reject you is about as low as you can get.
But maybe that’s the whole point.
Jesus was creating an obstacle for this woman’s faith. And when that hit me, it felt like nothing I’ve felt in a long time. When I came to terms with this, it was as if everything in life paled in comparison to this revelation. Everything made sense, and suddenly everything in me was calm.
This woman wasn’t about to take “no” for an answer. That was made evident. I think Jesus knew that. I think He wanted her to work for it. Not to exasperate her or unnecessarily trouble her. But to pull out of her things she may not have even known she had. He forced her to persevere. To keep trying. He taught her to keep seeking, taught her to value the things she was fighting for.
He’s done the same to me. I’ll be honest. God has allowed an overwhelming amount of obstacles to get in the way of my path. And I’m not gonna lie, a lot of them would have never been built had I never given my life to Christ. It was then that I opened myself up to the enemy’s attacks. So yes, Jesus has very much created obstacles for my faith. He’s seen my tears and heard my prayers. He’s forced me to come to face-to-face with Truth. He’s allowed me to be brought to the point of having to consciously ask myself if I was going to walk away or not. If this was all worth it. If He was worth it.
But it was in this struggle that I learned to value what it was that I was fighting for. I want freedom. From a whole list of things; mainly myself. And in the constant fight, I’ve realized just how much that means to me, and just how much I need God. And in turn, I’m given a reason to fight, a reason to stick to the path, a reason to pursue God regardless of what it may mean for my earthly situations.
I don’t think He was rejecting the woman, or being withholding. I think He was allowing her a chance to practice the great faith she’s had in her all along. I mean, it was a happy ending. She wrestled with God until her need was met.
And maybe He wrestled her just so He could hold her in His arms.
I don’t mean physically. Spiritually. Emotionally. It happened in Genesis 32, when God in human manifest (that’s Jesus, you know.) wrestled Jacob, and changed his name to Israel afterward, which literally means “Struggles with God”. And God named his whole nation after that. And He names us – his adopted nation – that as well. It’s an invitation to tackle with Him the obstacles He allows.
The woman was forced to look deeper and pull out answers she wouldn’t have thought to pull out had she not been challenged. Just think about it. God’s strong. There’s no way you can come out of a wrestling match with Him without some ripped muscles.
It makes you stronger. It forces you to see things in yourself you didn’t expect to find. Also I find it amusing that it took her getting sassy with Him for Him to grant her need. I think maybe He just wanted to hear her get honest with Him. He wanted her to be comfortable being real with Him.
And when I reread this passage in the Bible now, I just hear love in His voice. I see His intentions. I see His heart. And when I look back on all the struggles God has put me through, I feel His arm around me and the love He has pursued me with every step of the way.
I used to wrestle my female friends a lot. Just because I’m a really affectionate person and I enjoyed wrestling people until I could eventually wear them out so that I could sleep on them without them putting up a fight. I didn’t do it because I wanted to be mean and cause problems in their lives. I did it because I liked them and also showing affection and also the cuddling that it eventually led to.
And I like to think that Jesus has some sort of the same thought processes as me.