Jesus entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

“First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. (Mk 7:24-30)

I know what it is to have a daughter, to fret about her future, to be worried sick when she is ill or in torment.

There is no more desperate feeling in all the world than the despair of a parent who cannot alleviate the suffering of a much-loved child, a parent who must watch a child writhe without the power to offer healing or even hope.

This woman who came to Jesus in Mark 7 had a little daughter. We don’t know any particulars about the girl—her age, the color of her eyes, the name by which they called her. We only know the girl was suffering. Not from bad dreams. Not from disease or illness. This girl was possessed by a demon, afflicted with an evil spirit.

I don’t know what that even means. I don’t know what that looks like. Perhaps she suffered like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist”—head spinning, spewing green bile, and shouting obscenities. Maybe she was cutting or burning herself. She may have suffered fits or sat in the corner, rocking back and forth, mumbling and moaning to herself.

But you can feel the burden this woman carried for her daughter. You can sense her desperation. She is sick with worry, exhausted from watching and soothing and guarding and nursing, frightened not just by what has happened to her little girl but what might happen next. As a mother, she has to do something. As a mother, she needs to seek a cure.

So this woman, this mother, came to Jesus on behalf of her daughter. She hunted Jesus down. He was trying to hide from the crowds, a few days respite from the demands and the intrusions, a quiet room in an anonymous house to withdraw and regroup. But the woman had other plans. Boldly, she entered the house where Jesus was staying. Boldly, she asked for help, for mercy. She had no right to make such a request. She was a Gentile and a stranger.

But she came to him anyway—desperate and disheartened, frantic and frenzied. She fell to her knees before him. She clasped her hands as if in prayer.

And then she begged. “Please … for my daughter’s sake … cast out the demon that is destroying her.”

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