February 10, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Matthew 15:22
Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David, my daughter is tormented by a demon.”
This Canaanite mother believes in the identity and authority of Jesus over disease and demons. She places trust in his authority, in his person, in his powers. We don’t know how she came to believe in him, but her courage came to believe. She binds her courage to Christ. She brings her courage to bring wholeness and healing for her daughter.
Courage. It takes courage to be a Canaanite woman who crosses the border of Tyre and Sidon and approach a rabbi to ask for mercy. This Canaanite mother is unnamed, but she knows the name of Jesus. She may have heard through word of mouth about Jesus and the authority he has over demons and disease. She becomes a dreamer. She dreams of a future without demons for her daughter. She probably knows the complex socio-political history between Israel and Canaan. Israel’s victory meant Canaan’s defeat. Canaan is considered an enemy in the story. Nevertheless, none of these socio-political, religious, nor gender barriers keep a mother from asking for healing and mercy for her demonized daughter.
I wonder when and how she decided to get up that day and walk toward Jesus. I wonder if she left her daughter in someone’s care and said, “I’ll be back later today”—with her hopes and her entire heart in knots in her hands as she quickened her feet in his direction.
“Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David, my daughter is tormented by a demon.”
There was courage in Canaan. Courage was calling and brought her forth. Two aspects of courage are seen in this text.
First, this Canaanite mother believes in the identity and authority of Jesus over disease and demons. She places trust in his authority, in his person, in his powers. We don’t know how she came to believe in him, but her courage came to believe. She binds her courage to Christ. She brings her courage to bring wholeness and healing for her daughter.
Second, she asks for what she needs. She has a whole history of prejudice stacked up against her. The two most polarized bodies in all of Jerusalem come face to face in this borderland region. She crosses socio-political and invisible borders seeking and begging for mercy. When you belong to the margins and have been relegated to the margins, it takes a whole lot of courage to beg for mercy. How liberating and yet how brave of this mother! She knows there is mercy in his name.
How is courage calling you forth today in your workplace and in your world?
Consider how it is courageous nowadays to be merciful. How is courage a conduit for mercy?
God of the Canaanite mother, God who calls us forth to be courageous in the next conversation, the next project, the next conflict resolution, the next meeting—give us the courage to be merciful. Give us the courage to extend mercy. Faith without mercy is dead. May we be courageous and alive to embody your mercy and grace. Amén .
Banner image by Omar Lopez on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Jesus’ Teachings Include Women.
Subscribe to Life for Leaders
Sign up to receive a Life for Leaders devotional each day in your inbox. It’s free to subscribe and you can unsubscribe at any time.