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How the faith of the Canaanite woman inspires us not to give up

Pray that God will give you the faith, persistence and determination to keep on praying, even when we seem to be getting no response.

Image via [link]The Additional Needs Blogfather[/link].

There is an often-overlooked short story in the Gospels that many miss but which, while short, is rich with symbolism, meaning, and most of all hope!

It’s the story of when a Canaanite woman (sometimes referred to as a Syrophoenician woman) came to Jesus to ask him to heal her daughter, how the disciples and Jesus initially reacted, and how she ultimately persuaded Jesus to change his mind! Take a few moments to read it now…

Bible reference: Matt 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30


Summary of the story

Jesus travels to the region of Tyre and Sidon, and a Canaanite woman comes to him, acknowledging who he is (“O Lord, Son of David”) and asking for mercy for her and her daughter, who is described as demon-possessed and is suffering terribly (note: there are other cases of people described as being ‘demon possessed’ in the Bible who might have had medical conditions; a boy Jesus healed, for example, who is likely to have had epilepsy).

Initially, Jesus ignores her, and the disciples ask him to send her away. Jesus tries to dismiss her, quite abruptly, but she persists and reasons with him that even though she is not a Jew she can still believe and be helped, convincing Jesus of her faith, and so Jesus heals her daughter.

There is also the first indication here that Jesus’ mission may not just be for the Jews, but be extended to the Gentiles (all of us!) too.


Characteristics of the woman

Persistent, determined – it’s hard enough for her as it is as a Canaanite, and as a woman, to approach Jesus, a Jewish Rabbi, but then he and the disciples rebuff her. Unexpectedly, she keeps going, she persists and keeps asking, she doesn’t give up so easily.

Persuasive – she ends up in a short, yet profoundly important, theological and Christological debate with Jesus about his ministry and mission, unheard of for a Gentile woman, and her faith changes his mind. She changes the mind of God!

Rewarded – her persistence, her determination, her persuasiveness, and her faith are rewarded; her daughter is healed.


Message for us

We can be persistent and determined when dealing with ‘the world’ when it comes to our child with additional/special needs.

How many times have you gone into a meeting about your child with your metaphorical ‘boxing gloves’ on ready for a fight? I know I have; often we need to.

But are we so persistent and determined in our prayers for our child? Do we give up too easily? Are we afraid to push back on God if we feel rebuffed?

It’s not wrong to argue and debate with God, and sometimes it is in the persistent, continued, debating prayer that we can see the breakthrough in our lives or the lives of our child.

The faith, persistence, and determination of the Canaanite woman changed the mind of God, and sometimes we can too.

So, let’s keep bringing our children to Jesus, as the Canaanite woman did, through the power of the Holy Spirit; let’s learn from this story and other stories like this (see links below) and put our trust and hope in him.

Let’s remember that he loves our children and that he loves us too, and that he wants the very best for us.



Take a few moments to pray that God will, through the Holy Spirit, give you the faith, persistence and determination to keep on praying, even when we seem to be getting no response.

Even when we are exhausted, let us remember that when… ‘We do not know what we ought to pray for… the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.’ Romans 8:26. Give thanks that even when we feel like we can’t go on praying any longer, the Holy Spirit keeps interceding on our behalf.



Let us be inspired by the story of the Canaanite woman and her daughter to keep on bringing the needs of our child into God’s presence.

To keep on keeping on even when we don’t seem to be getting an answer; to never give up but to know that if she could change the mind of God then so can we!

Mark Arnold, Director of Additional Needs Ministry at Urban Saints. Arnold blogs at The Additional Needs Blogfather. This article was re-published with permission.




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