It’s Sunday night. Tomorrow I have yet another appointment to discuss the latest test performed on my pancreas. It is test number 1,438,25. And just like all the other tests before it, it showed nothing. Well…that’s not true. It showed that something is wrong with my pancreas. But still no answers as to what or why or how to treat whatever is wrong with my pancreas. Also, I now hate hearing, saying, and typing the word pancreas.
It’s April 15th. Just in case you’ve been in a coma for a while and had no idea what today’s date is. We’ve been home since January and are still no closer to finding any answers, and although we have until next January to get everything straightened out, I’m starting to freak out a little. I feel like I’m just watching the months roll by with no progress, and no solutions. The doctors still haven’t even started me on a new immunosuppressant. It’s important to find the right one and for me to be on it for at least six months before returning to PNG. We don’t have a repeat of the last year where we returned too quickly after starting a medicine, assuming that it would work, and then having my pancreas explode (ok so it didn’t explode, but since no one really knows what it did or what it’s doing, I might as well say it exploded). I have already tried two different drugs that did not work, so I’m very anxious to at least get started on SOMETHING very soon to make sure everything is in order for us to go back in January (there’s also the issue of the chronic pain in my joints that I have endured since coming off the medicine in October- it would be nice if that would stop as well-so yeah, finding a good immunosuppressant is important).
I’m at the point where I’m just begging God every day for relief. Relief from the pain, relief from the financial strain, relief from poking, prodding, drinking disgusting fluids, and hours and hours in doctors offices and hospital waiting rooms, relief from the limbo our lives are in waiting for answers that elude us.
I came across another woman begging Jesus for an answer earlier this week in my Bible reading. A Gentile woman who socially and culturally should not have even been speaking to Jesus at all. When she first addressed Him, He was silent, not even acknowledging her question (I feel this Gentile Lady! Let’s fist bump when I get to Heaven). Then when He does talk to her, he basically calls her a dog. A lot of people get hung up on Jesus’ initial treatment of this woman. Most commentaries defend Jesus’ actions by saying the word “dog” actually meant like a pet puppy, which is kinda better…I guess, and I think in the past I’ve probably gotten hung up at this as well, but this week I focused on the end of the story instead of the beginning. I focused and the woman’s response to Jesus, and it was point-of-view shattering.
Instead of getting all offended, she just basically says, ok, well if I’m a cute little puppy then I at least get some crumbs, Jesus, and that’s all I need. She knows that what Jesus has is so incredible, so powerful that all it takes is a few crumbs and her needs will be met. Her daughter will be healed of the demon who was tormenting her. She’s willing to lick those crumbs up off the floor like a dog, because she knows they are worth it if they come from His hands. That crumbs turn into a feast when offered by God.
Then I focused on His final response to her.
“Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.
She goes from little pet puppy to Dear Woman with Great Faith. And all because she is willing to lick up some crumbs??? It seems kind of extreme until you read Luke 14 and the parable of the Great Feast. Jesus is sitting at a table full of pharisees and important Jewish people and tells them that He has prepared an incredible banquet for them and they’ve all rejected the invitation. In the parable they’re rejecting a spectacular meal because they all had better things to do. They don’t want the feast that He’s offering them even though they are technically “His people” the “children” that he tells the Gentile woman that he has come to feed.
But the Gentile woman is willing to crawl under the table and lick the floor like a dog to be fed by Jesus when His children won’t even come at sit at the table and enjoy the bountiful meal He laid before them.
I’m now wondering who I am in these two stories? I certainly feel like a little puppy begging and begging at Jesus’ feet. But am I rejecting what He is currently offering me because I want something different? I don’t really like this feast of trial and suffering and bad health. It’s like He’s given me a feast of bitter greens and plain fish. Sure they have great health benefits, but are very hard to swallow. Am I pushing this plate aside and begging for something sweet instead? I want dessert. Nothing to hard. Nothing too healthy. Sure the dessert won’t grow or strengthen my faith or my character, but it sure does taste good.
And isn’t that the reason the Jews rejected Jesus in the first place? They didn’t like what He had to offer? They wanted an earthly King and not a Heavenly one. They wanted their physical problems taken care of not their spiritual ones. They wanted Him to come proclaiming the Kingdom of Israel, but He came proclaiming the Kingdom of God instead. They didn’t want what He placed on the table either, so they rejected Him and He made room at the table for those who were willing to accept it and be grateful for it.
I decided that I want to be a part of the feast no matter what He places on the table, because I know that He is good and whatever He offers is good for me, no matter how hard it is to swallow. I know that even if I get one crumb from His hand, it is better than an entire feast at any other table.
So tomorrow, no matter what the doctor says or doesn’t say, I will be grateful. I will thank Jesus for what He is doing in my life. Growing me and strengthening my faith in Him through these times that require so much trust that He knows what He’s doing. Trust that He loves me and isn’t rejecting me. Trust that those sweet times will come, because He has promised they will. Trust He can take my time spent as a little begging puppy and turn me into a Dear Woman of Great Faith.