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Jesus wants to cast this false notion out of us. This story is the means by which he does it. First, just as Jesus forced the woman to push hard for her healing, so Jesus forces us to push hard for our healing. The meaning of this story is not easy to come by. Just to understand the message of this healing, we had to delve deep and push hard. After reading Jesus's harsh words toward the woman, it would be easy—seemingly justifiable—for us to leave off faith in disappointment and upset. But just as the woman's persistence led to a great reward, so our persistence in seeking Jesus's love within this story leads to a great reward in our lives.
By persevering through the surface to the inner message of this story, we suddenly see the astounding depth of Jesus's love. His love is wiser and deeper than we'll ever know. It doesn't matter how unworthy we feel; Jesus's love reaches out to everybody. Just knowing this wins half the battle for us. But merely seeing the love of God within the story isn't enough—there is more. After having pushed through the difficulties of understanding this story, we must again tenaciously push through the difficulties within our own spirits.
When we are possessed by feelings of unworthiness, we are wise to follow the ways of this woman. We need to be persistent in our effort to access Jesus. Like the Canaanite woman, we must desire healing so fervently that we are willing to struggle with God. The Lord tells us in one parable that sometimes it will seem as if he is an uncaring and unjust judge, but that if we are persistent, even such a judge will yield to our desire for justice (Luke 18:1-8).
We should also notice the way in which the woman was persistent. She wasn't belligerent or rude about it. Even after Jesus's apparent disregard for her problem, the text shows us that she worshipped him. Only in a worshipful, hopeful approach to Jesus do we access the healing revealed in this story.
Lastly, we should remember the woman's motivation. She succeeded in winning the healing from Jesus because the passionate love she felt for her daughter empowered her. Spiritual healing and growth are inherently based in love. If we think about it rationally, we come to see that a sense of worthlessness hinders our ability to give and receive love. It makes us morose and trapped within ourselves. This state of mind affects those around us negatively. Our sense of worthlessness causes us to medicate our emotions with bad habits and addictions. These, in turn, hurt those around us. When we are tired of hurting those around us, love will lead us to Jesus's healing. If we are tired of the way our self-depreciation inhibits our ability to love and connect with others, if we are saddened by the way our self-hatred affects others negatively, then we will be empowered to tenaciously petition God for healing until we receive what we want. Love will drive us to take God to court, his own court, and quote back to him his own words. We might pray in this way:
Dear Lord Jesus,
You made me. You know everything about me and I admit to you that I feel worthless. I have tried my best and failed. I did not ask to be born like this. I need help! You have promised to help those who come to you. You have promised to be a faithful God. I am knocking on your door. I am seeking for you to be real in my life. I am asking you for help! I can't do this on my own. I don't know what else to do but beg you for help. You must help me. By your very words, you are obliged to help me!
E. Kent Rogers, a graduate of Bryn Athyn College with a BA in religion, will obtain a MS in mental health counseling from the University of Massachusetts in spring 2012. A series of events coinciding with a powerful spiritual experience led Kent, with the help of others, to create the Loving Arms Mission, a non-for-profit fundraising organization dedicated to creating and supporting New Church children's homes around the world. In 1999, Kent moved to Nepal to start the first of these orphanages. In 2002, he married Shovha Budhathoki, a co-worker and Nepali national. Loving Arms Mission has since begun supporting a second children's home in Nepal.