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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

God is Not Only Able, He is Also Willing

"Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness." 
A. W. Pink
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Matthew 15:21-28, is an account of a woman who refused to give up asking Jesus to rescue her daughter, who suffered greatly. We read, 

"And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, 'Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.' 

But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, 'Send her away, for she is crying out after us.' He answered, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'  

But she came and knelt before him, saying, 'Lord, help me.' 

And he answered, 'It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.' 

She said, 'Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.' 

Then Jesus answered her, 'O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.' 

And her daughter was healed instantly."

Who was this woman?

This woman was not a Jew. In fact, she was a Canaanite, a people who, historically in the Old Testament, were bitter enemies with the Jews. These gentile people were idolaters, known, in the Old Testament, for sacrificing their children to their gods. But this woman was pleading for her child to be made whole.

How and what did she know about Jesus?

It is quite amazing then that she would even approach Jesus. In reading the story, Jesus seems to be very reluctant to respond favorably to her and her request. She seems to be a bother to Him, in fact. But this is simply not the case, as we shall see.

Somehow this woman knew some very basic facts about Jesus. She must have seen Him healing others and heard the many accounts about Him that swirled about the region - accounts of those who had not been refused by Him. 

She knew He was the "Son of David", a title that acknowledged Him as the Messiah, for she cried out to Him by that name. She also called Him "Lord" indicating that she regarded Him as her master. She implored Him for His mercy, knowing that she needed that for her soul and for her life. She knelt before Him in worship, recognizing Him as One who was sovereign over her.

What made this woman so confident in approaching Jesus?

This woman knew who Jesus was. And in knowing who He was, she also knew His character. She knew He never refused those who came to Him. She knew and believed that He would not refuse her either, even though she was a gentile of the vilest reputation (being a Canaanite) and even though she was a woman (regarded by men at this time as mere chattel with no rights whatsoever). Above all else, she knew and believed that Jesus delighted in giving to those who loved Him the deep longings of their hearts. She knew how very good and willing He was and so she approached Him with great confidence.

This Canaanite woman knew Christ was willing and therefore would not give up asking of Him even when it appeared that He was refusing her. She was not seeking to overcome His perceived reluctance but was undertaking to lay hold of His gracious willingness. 

Am I as confident and persistent as the Canaanite woman?

Our understanding of the Lord's willingness is crucial to actually receive what we ask for. In this story, it is a foregone conclusion that if this woman had not persisted in her asking, had she walked away dejected because of what seemed to be a refusal by Jesus, she would not have been commended for her faith, nor would her daughter have been healed. 

So, how willing are we to persist in prayer? Are we as determined as this woman? Are we as desperate for Christ as was this tenacious mother? We must not give up asking what we know God is willing to give, which is just another way of thinking about what it means to pray according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). He is able and willing to give when we pray in this way. 

Moving Mountains

We don't believe You're able.
We don't believe You would.
We don't think You are willing.
Don't think that You're that good.
"All things are possible", said Christ.
"Through Me, so just believe."
"A mountain moves because you ask
And know that you'll receive."

So why do we not ask of You?
Your promise to fulfill;
We think, "Yes, God is able,
But is this thing His will?"
We might think You are able.
But we don't believe You would.
We don't think You are willing.
Don't think that You're that good.

Today, like every yesterday,
Lord Jesus, You're the same.
You preached Good News, healed all the sick
Who called upon Your name.
Of those who came and asked of You,
Not one was turned away.
Is mountain moving harder now?
Is God not good today?

Yes, we believe You're able.
We think You surely could.
But we don't think You are willing.
Don't know that You're that good.
Our God moves mountains with great ease.
He's done it from the start.
He moves a mountain every time
He tames a rebel heart.

No, mountain moving is not hard;
It causes God no grief.
The thing that's hard is my own heart.
Lord, help my unbelief!
O, I believe You're able.
And I want to know You would.
I want to know You're willing -
To know that You're that good.

O, move this mountain in my heart -
This mount of unbelief.
Through You all things are possible.
Please, Lord, help me believe.
O Savior, may I from this day,
Yes, from this very hour
Trust fully and completely in
Your mountain-moving power.

O, yes, I know You're able.
And I know You surely would.
You are so very willing.
You are so very good.
If I could simply comprehend
The goodness of the Lord.
I'd understand His willingness
And prayer would be out-poured.

He'd answer each petition
For His glory, then I would
See that He is so willing,
That He is so very good!
It's not that You are willing, Lord;
Nor even that You would.
But that You do move mounts each day
For Your glory and my good.


Posted by Sharon Kaufman

God is Not Only Able, He is Also Willing