On a day when I felt my parenting skills shriveling, when fear wrapped me in an impenetrable shroud, and I felt helpless staring into a future I knew I couldn’t make better for our daughter; I read the story of the mother who went to Jesus because her daughter was suffering. That story changed me. While it didn’t take away all my fear or change any of the hard realities we faced as we maneuvered complicated educational, medical, social, and physical challenges; this story taught me how the mother saw herself and how Jesus saw her, too.
We meet this mother when Jesus was trying to get away from the crowds. Of all things, a Gentile woman made a scene, pressed through the disciples who were trying to protect him, raised her voice and would not be silenced. There was demand and fear and determination in her voice. This mother was at the end of her rope. However, it is what she demanded first that surprised me. Read it for yourself:
Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering . . .
Do you hear what this mother was asking first? She asked for something for herself. She wanted mercy.
I always brought my daughter to Jesus, first. I thought that if he could heal or at least reduce some of the issues, it would help me, too. But this mother didn’t start with her daughter, she started with herself.
Before you start thinking how selfish, let me remind you what every person hears on a plane before takeoff. If the oxygen masks come down in an emergency, place the mask on yourself first; then help your child.
Every parent feels the suffering of their child in a deep and hidden place. Nothing that wounds a child leaves a parent without a similar wound. Parents just know how to hide their wounds better. The woman in this story was uncovering her wounds. Her daughter was suffering, but she was suffering, too.
Another convicting part of this story is how the mother persisted. She fell to her knees in front of Jesus. Nobody was going anywhere until Jesus addressed her. She cried again, this time even more specifically:
Lord, help me!
No matter how you inerpret the next inerchqnge between her and Jesus, the woman ends up asking for "crumbs." Somehow she knew that a crumb of healing from Jesus was worth more than what anyone else could give her. And she was right! `
As I applied this story to my life, here is what I learned:
1. I must acknowledge my own pain first. Lord, help me!
Acknowledging suffering is always the first step to healing. Hiding never heals. And we are good at hiding our needs behind what we believe to be a greater need for someone else. We like to call it humility, but it really is hiding. The deeper the pain, the more important it is to name it.
2. Ask for mercy.
This is not a throw-away prayer. This is a faith-prayer. When you believe that Jesus knows more about what will bring the first help to a situation, you can pray boldly for mercy. In fact, it is the strongest prayer you can pray when you don’t know what will make a difference.
Jesus healed two people that day. A mother and a daughter. Never forget in any time of pain or struggle, Jesus waits to hear your cry for help, for yourself and for the one you love. Sometimes his help is a promise, sometimes it is a new idea, sometimes it’s just an unmistakable relief that your pain matters to him. It always matters. Never underestimate the compassion and resources Jesus has for you and the one you love.
If you are interested in taking this lesson further, download the one-page Bible study here or below. Let me know what you learn from this hurting mother’s desperate cry.
Pictures: congerdesign, Unsplash