Persistence can be rewarding when it is directed toward helping children set goals and achieving objectives
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. (Matthew 15:21–28)
“Persistence pays off” is a lovely phrase for a motivational poster, but let’s be honest: to the parent of a three-year-old (or fifteen-year-old), persistence can translate as annoying. I remember chuckling over the message printed on a magnet posted on a friend’s refrigerator: Having children is like being pecked to death by ducks. To say my friend had an active and persistent child would be an understatement. If you can relate, take hope, because persistence directed toward a positive course can indeed pay off! Persistence can be rewarding when it is directed toward helping children set goals and achieving objectives.
Parents with persistent children must also be persistent. We must be persistently patient! Matthew’s Gospel offers an encounter Jesus had with a persistent mom during one of his journeys. She sought out Jesus to help her daughter who had a serious spiritual need. She first went to the disciples, but they saw her appeals as a nuisance. The rebuff from the disciples did not deter her. When she finally made it to Jesus, she bowed down.
Her posture speaks volumes! Matthew describes this woman as a Canaanite, which means she was a pagan foreign woman. Yet, she knelt down before Jesus in a show of respect. She was persistent, but she was not obnoxious—she was respectful. She was not the mom who would march into the school to bully the teacher to make sure her child receives preferential treatment. With nowhere else to turn and desperate to aid her child, she showed great faith by turning to the only One who could offer help.
Though at first glance Jesus seems indifferent and perhaps harsh in his response, it is in fact likely that he traveled an out-of-the-way route in order to encounter this woman.1 In the process, he clarified the priority of Israel in his divine plan. This Gentile woman had greater faith than the Jews he came to deliver. She affirmed his identity, even as his own disciples struggled with acknowledging him as the Messiah. He reminded them of the main mission, while he recognized and acknowledged her great faith. The faith of the mother resulted in the healing of the daughter. Your faith as a parent is important. Do not hesitate to be a persistent parent when it comes to praying for your child.
How persistent are you in prayer for your child? What are your greatest concerns for your child today?
Prayer for the Journey
Use your list of concerns as a prayer guide. Lord, along with these concerns, may my child respond to your persistent call. Amen.
1 Catherine Clark Kroeger and Mary J. Evans, The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary (Downers Grove, ILL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 534.