TITLE: The Canaanite Woman
By Brad Paulson
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Survival was difficult during that time. We were outcasts living in a cave outside the village of Tyre. Food was scarce but occasionally we would find scraps that had been left for us. Probably from my sisters. They would have no contact with us because of my 10-year-old daughter. They were afraid. For more than a year Lydia had been suffering from seizures. I hoped it would pass, but as time went on it got worse. She began to see visions, Demons, and she became violent. I was the only one who could calm her, but it could sometimes take hours. Everyone was afraid and I thought someone might bring harm to her. I heard talk of stoning both of us, eventually they made us leave. My sisters wanted me to give her up, take her into the desert and leave her. I couldn’t, she was my daughter, my child.
We stayed hidden during the day. I did my best to keep the demons from taunting Lydia. I could tell when she was hearing the voices because her eyes would glaze over and she would tremble. At night I would search for food and get water. I had to leave her in the cave. I bound her feet and hands when I wasn’t there so she wouldn’t wander or injure herself. I don’t know how we survived.
I was shocked one day when one of my sisters came out to our hiding place. She would not look at Lydia, but she told me there was a man in Geneserett that might be able to help. He had powers to heal. Many people who were sick or had demons had touched his cloak and had been restored. My sister told me he was a Jew, but that he was different than the others. He was creating quite a bit of dissension among the Jews, because his ideas sometimes went against the way the Jewish leaders interpreted their laws.
“What good will he do us?” I asked. A Jewish man, especially one of importance would not even look at a canaanite woman, especially one with a demon-possessed child.
“He may be your only hope” she said as she left.
Somehow I knew she was right. I had exhausted every hope I could think of and there was nothing left. This was not the first time I had heard of this man, they called him Jesus. Everywhere he went people were healed. But, even though I believed he had the power to heal Lydia, we weren’t Jews.
For several days I thought about what my sister had said. This Jesus was my only hope. But there was no way I could make the trip to Geneserett, I couldn’t leave Lydia for that long. If only Jesus could meet me here. That night I prayed to the God of Israel, “If this man has the power to heal my daughter, Lord, then send him to us. He is our only Hope.” The following morning my sister came running to us crying out, “He is here! He is here!, I heard some of the men say that he is just outside of the city! You must go and see him!”
I was shocked. I knew this was a gift from the God of Israel. Confused and afraid I left Lydia and I ran. I ran as fast as I could. It was not my place to approach this man, but I had no other options, no other hope. When I came upon them they were just beyond the city gates entering a small house. Running up to them, winded and trying to catch my breath, I couldn’t tell which one was Jesus, but I cried out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession!”
Then reality hit me. Some of them ignored me. I could tell others were annoyed and several of them glared at me. I heard one of them say, “Send her away, or she will keep bothering us.” I was beginning to think I had made a horrible mistake.
Then I saw him. It was Jesus, he looked right at me and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” My heart sank for a moment, my head was spinning, but then I realized he wasn’t talking to me. He was talking to the men that were with him.
“Lord, help me!” I cried.
He said, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs”
All at once I realized that he was rebuking the men for trying to disregard me. There was a tone of sarcasm in his voice that was meant to bring shame to them. The men thought that they were better and more important than someone like me, a lowly Canaanite woman, that Jesus was only interested in helping them. Jesus was showing them how foolish they sounded. I knew he could and would help me.
“Yes Lord,” I said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their Master’s table.”
I wanted desperately for him to know that I believed in his power, that I would do anything just to touch the hem of his garment. The men were obviously annoyed, and for a moment I became afraid of what they might do. Then I looked toward Jesus, I noticed a gentle smile appear on his lips.
“Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”
I fell to my knees praising him. For the first time in more than a year I felt at peace. Somehow I knew that he was telling me the truth, that I could believe him and that Lydia was healed. I returned to the cave that for so long had been our prison. Lydia was asleep inside, my sister was pale and obviously shaken.
“How is she?” I cried.
“They’re gone, they’ve left her,” My sister was terrified. She kept rocking, back and forth saying, “Thank you Jesus, Thank you.” I scurried to Lydia’s side to see if it was true. The color had come back to her face and when she opened her eyes, I could tell her vision had cleared.
“They’re gone mama,” she said as we embraced.
From that time on everything was different. Instead of fear and dread, we lived in hope. Meeting Jesus gave us that hope. Even though the subsequent years still held many hardships and challenges, we never forgot the healing and hope we received after that encounter with Jesus.
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