One day we will all stand before God. I secretly hope that when I have the beyond-words experience of standing in His presence, He will tell me my faith was something else.
Okay, not so much a secret anymore, but allow me to tell you why that phrase appeals to me.
The account of the Canaanite woman who approached Jesus to heal her demon-possessed daughter is found in Matthew 15:21-28.
She cried out for Jesus to help her, and His disciples urged Him to send her away. This is when Jesus reminded them that God had sent Him to take care of the lost sheep of Israel first.
The Canaanite woman could have felt ignored and given up. Instead, she knelt before Jesus and again asked for help. This time, He responded directly to her with a reminder that the Israelites were to take precedence. He said, “It’s not right to take bread out of children’s mouths and throw it to dogs.” This comment would likely be perceived as an insult in today’s context. However, He was using this example to explain the priorities of His ministry, and the Greek word He used for a dog was not a derogatory term. And remember, this is Jesus we are talking about; insulting her would not be His intent. In verse 27 (ESV), she quickly remarked, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” And Jesus’ reply? “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” Scripture tells us her daughter was healed at that instant.
Using the word ‘great’ to characterize the Canaanite woman’s faith is high praise from Jesus! Countless Bible versions of this passage use that same adjective. Still, I will always be enthralled by the Message version’s wording for this particular account: “Oh, woman, your faith is something else.”
How did the Canaanite woman’s faith attain the ‘something else’ label? Even though Jesus did not immediately acknowledge or answer her request, she stayed focused on what she knew: that Jesus was a healer who had performed miracles for numerous people. She did not allow doubt, social norms, or onlookers’ reactions to prevent her from confidently and boldly begging Jesus to attend to her non-Israelite daughter. The Canaanite woman set a powerful example of staying strong in her faith while pressing for recognition and resolution for her suffering daughter.
There are reasons God does not answer all of our pleas right away. God loves us so much that He has a masterfully-designed plan for each of our lives that teaches us to become more Christlike. Sometimes those life lessons require a wait. It is up to us to decide how our faith will be affected by waiting. With His help, we can learn to wait well.
I aspire to live out a great faith like the Canaanite woman did. A faith that trusts there is a growth opportunity attached to the wait. A faith that persists and perseveres. A faith that God will specifically describe as “something else” when I someday stand before Him. I acknowledge that intentional prayer and work are required before I earn that compliment. Today is the perfect day to begin.