Have you ever asked God for something only to wait and wait and wait without an answer? God always answers prayers with one of three options: ‘yes’, ‘no’, or some variation of ‘let’s wait and see.’ Are you patient enough to wait for His answer? It requires a great faith to allow God the time He chooses in answering our prayers, and even deeper faith when the answer is ‘no’ because sometimes we just ask for our own selfish desires.
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Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Be Transfigured, where we invite to live a new life in Christ. We pray that this episode is a blessing to you and will inspire you to rededicate your life to Jesus Christ. We invite you to join us for worship or study at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where visitors are always welcome. We'll be back in a few moments to share some more information about our ministry.
I remember this one day several, several years ago. I was in a workshop with a bunch of other clergymen. Catholic, Protestant. I was there. Even the Jewish Rabbi was there. We were discussing a very specific ministry, hospital ministry, and the importance of, as clergy, go into the hospital when people are sick and saying prayers et cetera, et cetera.
One of the ministers there raised his hand and he says, "Is there anyone who would ever go to the hospital and not pray that the person was healed?" Now we've been together for a little over two years, so you know that sometimes I can be a little ornery. So I raised my hand. I said, "I do not go to the hospital just to pray that they get better." He said, "Why wouldn't you? I said, "Because for us as Orthodox we don't pray just for good health, but that we pray that we have good health long enough to repent."
We continued the conversation. What is it really we want from God when we pray? That is a little bit of what is taking place in this morning's gospel. Here is a woman with a sick daughter. The scriptures tell us she was possessed by a demon. We don't really know what was wrong with her, but she was sick. She went to Christ and asked for help and Christ ignored her, as if she wasn't even there. So much so it says that she was crying out to him, "Have mercy on me, Son of David."
His Apostles were getting kind of annoyed. "Come on, Lord. Send her away. Send her away. She's bothering us. She comes and she kneels up to him. "Lord, help me." Again He says, "It is not right to give the children's food and give it to the little dogs."
Now, you have to understand this expression with the little dogs. This was not Christ calling her names. In that tradition the little dogs were the little puppy dogs that would run around the table all the time. Big dogs were never allowed in the house. Grown up dogs were never allowed in the house. But the little puppy dogs because they were being taken care of they were allowed to kind of run around the table and they would clean up the crumbs that would fall from the table.
This is where she expressed her deep faith. "Yes, but even the little dogs eat the crumbs." As if to tell Christ, "I am nobody special, God. I don't need a whole lot of your attention. Just throw me a few crumbs." It was greater than that, because what she wanted wasn't for herself; it was because her daughter was sick.
Saint Peter challenges us. He says, "You ask and you do not receive." He's talking about the complaints that people were having because they were making prayers to God and not getting what they had asked for. So Saint Peter would say, "You asked and you do not receive because you asked for your own selfish desires."
God is taking this great faith of this woman who didn't want anything for herself. She didn't want any special attention from God. She didn't even want Him to go anywhere. She was going be satisfied with just a few crumbs of His attention.
What did Christ say? "Oh woman, great is your faith. Let it be done as you desire."
My brothers and sisters, what do we desire from God? Do we desire merely to not have physical pain? Do we desire merely to have a few extra dollars in the bank so we don't have to make the difficult decisions on whether we have cable TV or whether we have food on our table? What really do we want from God? There's a Greek expression what it's your birthday, whatever you desire may God Grant you. But then constantly in our ears we hear this warning of Saint Peter, "You ask and you do not receive."
You don't have to raise your hands, because I suspect everyone would raise their hand, but how many of you, think of it into your heads, have ever asked God for something and you didn't receive it? Because there's three answers from God when we ask for something. Yes, no, and some kind of variety of well let's wait and see. Let's wait and see what you really want before I give you something.
So the woman in this morning's gospel, she received the let's wait and see answer. Let's wait and see are you patient enough to wait for God's blessings? Are you faithful enough to know that God will give you what you need? This is what is happening for this woman.
The great part is that God is doing this in front of the big crowd, so that everyone can see the great faith of this woman.
So our challenge, my brothers and sisters, when we are contemplating what our prayers are to God. Not just for those in the hospital. Of course we don't want people to suffer in the hospital. Don't misunderstand me. But if all we're asking for is for the pain to go away and not followed by what Christ says to this woman, "Your faith has made you well."
If what we ask from God isn't that amazing opportunity to be in holy communion with Him, to be saved by Him, and to live eternally with Him in His kingdom, then what good will it do if we walk out of a hospital with a healed leg if we forget what opportunity God has in front of us?
Again, I'm not suggesting we don't want to be physically healed, but our hearts desire a deeper kind of healing than what the doctors can accomplish for us. Our hearts desire God to burn and cleanse and to shine from within us. So that as the example in this morning's gospels those around us won't just see that we love God, but they'll see just how much God loves us. That God is willing to be with us and to bring us into His kingdom.
We're going to begin next week our Triodion, our pre-Lenten journey. The church is going to challenge us to dig deep into our hearts and determine what do we really want from God. Then pray that we love Him enough to accept His answer that we have enough faith to know that God knows better than we do what we need and when we need it. That we will hear those wonderful words of God, great is your faith. We will shine with the light of Christ when we hold our lambathes, when we hold our candles and we sing Christos Anesti, And proclaim that light to the world. Glory to God for all things.
Be Transfigured is a production of Be Transfigured Ministries in cooperation with the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida. We depend upon your generosity to maintain our ministry. You can make a safe, online donation when you visit our website liveanewlifeinchrist.org.