After confronting the Pharisees and scribes about their hypocrisy, Jesus explains that our hearts are the origin of defilement. Then He withdraws. Matthew 15:21~And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. (ESV) Known as southern Lebanon, it’s about 40 miles to this Gentile region where Christ will minister and reveal how faith can be Fortified.

The first thing we need to do to help fortify our faith is to become a person who is persistent in prayer (15:22-28). One thing we all need to be reminded of is that our requests, needs, and desires must be made through or in persistent prayer. The Apostle Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:6~Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (NIV) Not being anxious can be pretty hard. That is why as we journey through this Gentile territory, we meet a Canaanite woman who comes persistently to Jesus. Now the Canaanites were bitter enemies of the Jews when Israel was settling the Promised Land. 

The woman comes to Jesus and cries out, “Have mercy!” Matthew 15:22~ And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, Have mercy on me, O Lord (κύριος kyrios), Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon. (ESV) Despite her pagan background, she calls Jesus by His messianic title, Son of David. She also reverently addresses Him as Lord (κύριος kyrios), meaning master or controller, you got what I need. She says I know who you are and I call on you.

Now Jesus ignores her at first. Matthew 15:23~But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” (ESV) Matthew 15:24~He answered, I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (ESV) We know His answer is meant to test the woman’s faith, for Jesus does minister to Gentiles. In Matthew 8:5-13, He heals the Roman centurion’s servant with a word. Moreover, He chats up a Samaritan woman who He offers living water to at the well in John 4:7-29. All the more this woman cries.

As she comes before Christ, she kneels, and says, Lord, help me. This is an all too familiar picture. Where we, as believers kneel before our Lord to plead our desperation in great prayer and supplication. As Jesus answers her, He uses three points of reference known to the Jews. Saying in Matthew 15:26~And he answered, It’s not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs. (ESV) Now for us, who are not Jews of the day and don’t understand this reference, it would seem that Christ is without compassion. Yet, we know that Jesus cares for us and that we are to cast all of our cares and concerns upon Him. It was the psalmist who first penned in Psalm 55:22~Cast thy burden upon Jehovah, and he will sustain thee: He will never suffer the righteous to be moved. (KJV) 

What burden is there in your life that needs to be cast on Christ. Why not embrace the 21-Days of prayer and fasting this year to set a tone for your faith and life moving forward. Go ahead and cast the burden that you have been toting around on Jesus. He cares for you and will be the one who sustains you. Let the Lord become your strength today.

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