A Canaanite woman traveled to see Jesus, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.” She addressed Him by His title in Israel, “Son of David.” Saying nothing at first, he then set a context: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” Perhaps realizing He was testing her, she worshiped him: “Lord help me.” When he replied, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to dogs,” she carried out His analogy. “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Praising her faith, He healed her daughter. She experienced faith fulfilled; although the specifics may surprise some, he blesses individuals in need in His own way.
Miracles of Faith Fulfilled
Christ taught and healed multitudes of people. But some of those who had faith fulfilled individually were chosen by New Testament authors for future generations.
The Canaanite woman was an “outsider”; but she had the faith to travel a distance to approach Him, to demonstrate the depth and persistence of that faith, and to plead with Him using the analogy He used.
Obviously she knew who He was and what He could do. And He knew who she was, how strong her faith was, and what blessing she desperately needed. Elder D. Todd Christofferson was impressed that “that humble mother would accept, as it were, even the crumbs from the Master’s table.” 1
Writing on the website Christian Study Library, Donna Kelderman wrote of the significance of those crumbs of faith fulfilled.
What love! What compassion! Imagine this mother’s joy . . . She was humbled but her child was healed.
Although on the surface it seems like this mother is asking only for a crumb, we have seen in actuality she was asking great things. “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Ps. 81:18). Press on; plead on. 2
This woman had much in common with the woman who was healed by touching His robe. This woman was too humble to approach Jesus directly. She knew where she could find Him in a busy crowd and reach the hem of His clothing from her place in the road.
A touched hem in the road was probably equivalent to crumbs under a table. She would have crept silently away, but He needed to call her “daughter” and acknowledge the strength of her faith. How blessed we are that these women’s blessings of faith fulfilled have been recorded for us.
A man who had waited 38 years to be healed at Bethesda; 10 lepers who suffered from this agonizing disease; many blind, deaf or crippled individuals who had lifelong disabilities were healed—these experiences teach us of the compassionate love in faith fulfilled.
Elder Robert C. Gay, who was at the time in the Presidency of the Seventy, shared an experience of faith fulfilled that changed His understanding of God’s perspective and His love.
Elder Gay’s older sister had endured “a challenging life,” had “struggled with the gospel,” and was “abandoned” by her husband to raise her four children. At the end of her life, he learned something that would change his.
On the evening of her passing, in a room with her children present, I gave her a blessing to peacefully return home. At that moment I realized I had too often defined my sister’s life in terms of her trials and inactivity. As I placed my hands on her head that evening, I received a severe rebuke from the Spirit.
I was made acutely aware of her goodness and allowed to see her as God saw her—not as someone who struggled with the gospel and life but as someone who had to deal with difficult issues I did not have. I saw her as a magnificent mother who, despite great obstacles, had raised four beautiful, amazing children . . . .
During that final evening with my sister, I believe God was asking me, “Can’t you see that everyone around you is a sacred being?” 3
I’m reminded of one of my favorite insights of respected Christian writer C. S. Lewis, from The Weight of Glory.
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. . . .
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal . . . it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit. 4
We might wonder what we could say to the Canaanite woman, one of the 10 lepers, or Elder Gay’s sister if we are blessed to meet them in a celestial place.
As we learn about worthy individuals with faith fulfilled, some of us “plain” people may be anxious about how the Lord will view us. Dieter F. Ucthdorf had some comforting words:
No matter where you live, no matter how humble your circumstances, how meager your employment, how limited your abilities, how ordinary your appearance . . . you are not invisible to your Heavenly Father.
He loves you. He knows your humble heart and your acts of love and kindness. Together, they form a lasting testimony of your fidelity and faith. 5
As we learn of His healings and teachings, we can recognize that many of those with faith fulfilled, like the Canaanitewoman, the robe-touching woman, and the healed lepers, seem as ordinary as we are.
Painting by Mauritshuis/Wikimedia Commons