An Overcoming Faith

Meshea Hardeman

As Mother’s Day approaches, I can’t help but reflect on motherhood and everything that cherished role means. Certainly, it’s a day when we celebrate the many blessings and gifts that God has given us through motherhood. As children, we honor the love and sacrifice of our own mothers, and as mothers, we thank the Lord for His gift of our own children.

But I’m also reminded that for many women, including myself, Mother’s Day can bring a renewed awareness of the various challenges and sorrows that can sometimes associated with motherhood:

The nostalgic longing of a child for a mother no longer here…
The unfulfilled desire of a single woman to be wed and begin a family of her own....
The deep ache of a mother who’s outlived her own child...
The despair of a wife unable to bear children…
A grieving mother whose pregnancy has been cut short by loss...
The anxious love of a foster mother who may soon have to let go of the precious life in her care...
A stepmother committed to pouring her life out for children she didn’t bear, who may or may not welcome her love...
A child with past wounds of abuse or rejection from their own mother…
The painful yearning of a mother for reconciliation to an estranged child...

The list could go on of all of the ways that we feel the effects of the Fall upon the beautiful, God-given role of “mother.” I have been many of the women on that list, and I know many more who are walking through several of those seasons this Mother’s Day. And it's hard.

So when I pondered what to share, I really just wanted to encourage you with what the Lord has been teaching me in my own life as I wrestle with this high and holy calling. It begins with a passage that has shown up repeatedly in my life lately in the form of sermons, studies, and devotions: It’s the story of a woman who had experienced difficulty as a mother, who was fiercely committed to her role despite the difficulty, and who turned to Christ as her only hope of fulfilling that role. Her story is found in the gospel of Matthew:

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  (ESV)

In this passage is a woman who deeply loves her daughter and is heavily burdened for her. We don’t know her name, her age, or much about her, really. But we know that she takes her role as a mother very seriously and is desperate to help her child, who is in a painful and difficult situation, and whom she is powerless to help.

Have we as women not found ourselves there? Have you not seen a child or your own children in distress and felt helpless, incapable or inadequate in your ability to “fix” the problem?

In my own life, I have felt very burdened as a mother. Craig and I are raising three boys (16, 14, and 2) and a little girl to join them soon, and it seems as though we are constantly pleading with God to give us wisdom to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” in each of the daily situations and circumstances that we find ourselves. Whether it’s the sinful nature of our two year old foolishly disobeying, our teenagers giving into one of the many temptations of our culture, or our terminally sick daughters whose health we could not restore, I have found myself often struggling, feeling overwhelmed with the difficulty and weight of being a mother.

So how does the mother in the text respond to the challenge?

She puts her hope in the only person who can truly help her daughter. She, a pagan woman, humbles herself by kneeling before a Jewish man. Her boldness and willingness to lay aside her own reputation for the sake of her child shows her selflessness. Her cry to Him is so simple and yet so perfectly beautiful:

“Lord, help me.”

She believes that HE can help her daughter. She knows that she cannot. She is full of faith in the power of Christ to heal, to restore, to make well.

And she’s committed. Jesus doesn’t immediately grant her request. In fact, He initially doesn’t respond at all. At this time, prior to His death, His ministry was focused on the chosen people of Israel. She was not a part of that, and Jesus then tells her so. But she doesn’t give up! She knows. Knows that Christ is her only hope, knows she has nowhere else to turn, knows that apart from Him she can do nothing - and so, she persists.

She admits that she has no right or worthiness for the mercy and help of Christ, but that even the lowliest of creatures in a home are granted leftover food. There is no pride in her plea, only faith. And Jesus’ response is tremendous: He commends her faith and grants her request, healing her daughter!

Oh, that my heart’s cry would look like this! I have been convicted that, all too often, I look to my own strength and wisdom to provide, rather than uttering a humble plea to the Lord to “Help me.” And all too often, when He doesn’t do things immediately the way that I would want, I just give up instead of persevering and diligently imploring Him to work, confident that He is the only true hope that I have!

I know that this doesn't mean that, if I ask Him, He will absolutely grant every request in exactly the way that I want. But it does mean that He WILL HEAR and He WILL HELP.

If you have found yourself some days thinking it's too hard, or just feeling weighed down with pain or sorrow, even overwhelmed with fear or uncertainty at this great responsibility, turn to Christ and plead “Lord, help me!” and He will help you...

… find comfort for your hurt in His healing hands...
... surrender your desires to His wise plan...
… believe in His sovereignty, despite what seems hopeless...
… discover wisdom for complicated and tense circumstances…
...overcome the frustrations and inconveniences of things beyond your control.

Charles Spurgeon, in his devotional Morning and Evening, wrote this of the woman’s faith:

“The woman opens her soul's mouth very wide, expecting great things of Jesus, and he fills it with his love. Dear reader, do the same… She won the victory by believing in Him. Her case is an instance of prevailing faith; and if we would conquer like her, we must imitate her tactics.”

So, this Mother’s Day and every day, my prayer is this:

Whether it’s peace, wisdom, healing, comfort, contentment, patience, or whatever else, trust that He hears your utterance of faith, and will give you what you need and far more than you can even imagine. You need only ask.

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