Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. – Psalm 27:14
My two seniors, sixth grader, and I began our home school year last week.
The beginning of a new school year never fails to bring back memories of our very first day of school thirteen years ago: two round-cheeked preschoolers (no third child yet) learning how to print the letter A, memorizing a little song about setting the table, and remembering to raise their hands if they had a question.
Hand-raising was key in those early days. Otherwise, Aidan and Shae would compete for my attention, questions escalating into bickering and whining.
To help them remember to raise their hands, I told them that if they didn’t do so and then ask their question nicely, I would ignore them.
I only had to pretend not to hear them a few times before they caught on, often reminding each other in mid-whine that I wouldn’t listen to them unless they raised their hands. Then, I’d turn to see two silent little ones, each with lips pressed together and a hand raised high in the air.
Then I had to choose which child to call on first!
Earlier this week, I read about a surprising situation in which Jesus, master of compassion, actually ignored someone.
In Matthew 15, a Canaanite woman of Tyre followed Jesus and his disciples for a time, begging Jesus to help her demon-possessed daughter.
Yet, the great Physician who had healed so many others chose to ignore her.
Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. – Matthew 15:21-23
Finally, the disciples asked Jesus to send her away. In her persistence, the Canaanite woman was becoming a noisy nuisance. The disciples had little sympathy for her, anyway, as she was both a woman and a Gentile – not worthy of their attention.
Jesus turned to the woman and said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (v. 24).
It seemed as though Jesus was confirming His disciples’ opinions, telling her that He would not help her, as His primary mission was to save His own people, the Jews.
Many would have given up. Others would have responded in anger and frustration.
But this woman drew closer to Jesus and worshiped Him.
“Lord, help me,” she said.
Lord, help me.
Read the rest of the story in Matthew 15, and you’ll see that Jesus rewarded the humility and faith of this Gentile woman with high praise and a healed daughter.
In hindsight, we can see that Jesus’ “ignoring” this woman brought out the best in her. The space of time between her request and His ultimate response revealed a wise and spiritual woman from whose character the disciples could learn a great deal.
If you ever feel ignored by Christ, I hope you’ll take comfort in knowing that He is still the compassionate Savior He has always been. Perhaps He is using time to bring out the best in you, to draw you closer to Him, to increase your faith and glorify God in the eyes of those around you.
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. – Romans 8:25
Have you ever felt ignored by Christ? What have you learned through that situation? I welcome your input as always.