Bible study, Encouragement/Devotional, Faith, Growth, Lifestyle, Purpose, Relationships

[Biblical Women’s History Month] Are you a desperate dog?

For the third year in a row, we are celebrating women in the Bible for Women’s History month. Each week I will be featuring women from the Bible that may not be well known, or highlighted often, and see how they made an eternal impact in the Kingdom.

Have you ever been desperate? I know I have. Although I don’t have any children, I have an idea of what it’s like to see someone I love, struggling, helpless, and needing relief from something that is plaguing them, but not knowing where else to turn for help.

Perhaps you are mother who is reading this right now. Have you ever had a sick child? Have you been in a situation where your child needs your help, is suffering or being tormented, but there is nothing else you can do to bring relief to him or her? Imagine hearing about a Man who you knew could heal your child is coming to your region. As would most parents, you’d probably make a beeline to find Him and beg Him to heal your child. What if when you finally got to Him, however, you were considered a bother to those around Him? In fact, what if they actually encouraged the Healer to send you away? How would you respond? Would you be discouraged and turn away from the last chance of receiving helping and mercy for your child?

This is the the situation for a Gentile (Canaanite) mother, a woman born in the region of Tyre and Sidon. She is seeking mercy and relief from Jesus for her daughter who is possessed by a demon and is being tormented severely. Now before we hop into the story found in Matthew and Mark’s gospels (Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30), let me shed some light about this region Jesus is in when He encounters this woman. This region, specifically Sidon, is also mentioned several times in the Old Testament. Known as the mother city of Tyre, Sidon is often synonymous with wickedness and is one of the many cities that worshipped other gods. It was this city’s influence, as well as the children of Israel’s disobedience in not overthrowing them in their conquest of the Promised Land (Judges 1:31), that led the Israelites to abandon the Lord and no longer serve Him (Judges 10:6). Another interesting fact is that Jezebel, the wicked wife of King Ahab, was from the city of Sidon (1 Kings 16:31). The widow of Zarephath that fed Elijah the prophet, when he was led there by the Lord in 1 Kings 18, was also near the city of Sidon where a miracle happened.

Interestingly enough, Jesus calls out these wicked cities–Tyre and Sidon–and practically praises them as He is denouncing the towns who have not repented of their sins and turned to God, even though He has done so many miracles there (Matthew 11:20-22).

In each gospel, the desperate mother, who isn’t given a name, is identified by the region and area she is from in Matthew’s gospel, and also by her need in Mark’s gospel. She cries out to Jesus in desperation, not on behalf of herself, but for her daughter. She acknowledges who Jesus is when she approaches Him and falls down at His feet: “Oh Lord, Son of David” (Matthew 15:22), pleading and begging for Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.

There’s something I want to draw your attention to in Matthew’s account of this story. Jesus’ initial response, or lack thereof, would cause many to gasp, at first glance.

“But He did not answer her a word.” ~Matthew 15:23, ESV

Say what?! Jesus ignored her plea?! How? Why?!

If that wasn’t bad enough, those who were with Him–the disciples–urged Him to send her away because she was bothering them with her begging (v. 23).

Never underestimate a desperate mother! When Jesus did respond, He shares these words with the woman:

“I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24, NLT)

It’s as if the woman did not hear what Jesus said, as she knelt down, worshipped Him and said,

“Lord, help me!” (v. 25)

This woman knew something about Jesus. Even though she was not considered a part of God’s lost sheep—the children of Israel—she didn’t allow this classification to hinder her plea. She was too desperate to allow Jesus’ next words, or His previous ones, to offend her, causing her to miss out on receiving what she needed from Him.

In her first interaction with Jesus, He didn’t immediately respond to her. When He did, He clearly told her that He was only called to help the children of Israel of whom she was not. Finally, He referred to her as dog. This conversation alone would be enough for most people to just turn around and walk away, defeated and discouraged. Yet, this woman, was neither. She was desperate–a desperate dog.

Now, before you get all up in arms, let’s consider what Jesus was saying in context. When He said He couldn’t give the bread that was reserved for the people of Israel to the dogs, it was another way to highlight that she was not a descendant of Israel, but a Gentile. In those times, Gentiles, i.e. anyone who was not considered of Jewish descent, was referred to as one “whose moral impurity will exclude them from the New Jerusalem.” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). Her response to this seemingly offensive term, in modern day terms, could be considered a clapback or, in more appropriate terms, quick wit. It was, in fact, something far greater. It was a faith response.

She acknowledged that although she was not deserving of the “food” He came to give because of her background, she saw Him as her Master and would willingly eat up even the scraps of what He was feeding to those who got a seat at the table. She was content with the scraps, if it meant that she could receive what she needed from Him. The word scraps, or crumbs, in the Greek means, “a little bit or morsel”. One morsel of what Jesus was providing was more than enough to help her and her daughter.

This desperate dog’s response was a faith response for the books. She possessed a faith that was defined as “trust (or confidence)…in Christ, springing from faith in the same” (, It was a faith that did not even exist with many that Jesus encountered who qualified to receive the bread He was giving. They had a seat at the table, primarily by birth and yet, they had no desire for what the Master was feeding them. In those few words, and because of her great faith which Jesus acknowledged, this woman’s request was granted and her daughter instantly received her healing (Matthew 15:28).

What are you desperate for God to do in your life or in the life of someone who you love? Are you desperate enough that you will not allow being ignored or called a bother to offend you in such a way that would hinder you from worshipping at the feet of Jesus for healing? Will you be content with knowing that although you aren’t deserving of the help Jesus came to give simply because you may not have being born into the “right culture”, as long as you can still receive a crumb of what the Master is offering, it will be more than enough to satisfy and heal you? There is mercy and healing waiting at the feet of Jesus for all those who cry out to Him, even desperate dogs. May we not allow anything to offend us or keep us from Jesus and our healing.

But before you go…

***Tomorrow is not promised. Today is all we have. If you are reading this and haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as Your Lord and Savior, would you consider doing so right now? Jesus died so He could have a personal relationship with you and so that one day, when you leave this earth, you can spend eternity with Him. You can say a prayer similar to this:

Dear Lord, I acknowledge that I am a sinner and that I cannot save myself. You showed Your great love for me, while I was in my sinful state, by sending Jesus Christ to die for me. Today, right now, I declare that Jesus is the Son of God. I believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead. Please enter into my heart, Lord Jesus, forgive me of all of my sins, and seal me with Your Holy Spirit. I choose this day to live for You, all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you said this prayer (or something similar) and you truly meant it, welcome to the family of God! Angels in heaven are rejoicing with you on the best decision you will ever make in life, and so am I! Please send me an email ( or respond to this post so I can celebrate with you!

Then the Lord God made a woman

Genesis 2:22, NLT

Scripture references: The Holy Bible (NLT, ESV)

References:, Vine’s Expository Dictionary

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