I was reading this morning the case of the Canaanite woman with the demonized daughter. She comes to Jesus in desperation. Jesus is silent to her plea. And his disciples urge him to send her away. Then she kneels before him, asking for help. This is when Jesus responds in line with what he had told his disciples. The bread is only for the children, really meaning here, I believe, the children of God especially as gathered from Israel, at that time. And not for the dogs. She then responds that even the dogs under the table eat the crumbs that fall down. Jesus then commends her for her great faith. And tells her that her request is granted. And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Arguably, you might say that a majority of people never would have come to Jesus in the first place. But against that is the times when people did bring their sick to Jesus. Also desperation can result in a new openness to God in our lives. She comes.
But then she is put off with silence. She could have left, but instead she irritates the disciples by continuing to cry out to them. Then Jesus explains his mission, how it is focused on saving the lost sheep of Israel. Again this could have resulted in her giving up, and thinking that God's blessing and salvation is not for her daughter, or for her. But instead she persists, and we already know the end of the story.
Why is faith so hard? Just late last night and early this morning I was struggling over an issue which really has to do with my faith. I am reminded of passages in which Jesus teaches us that we must have the faith of a child, if we're to enter into the kingdom of God. Or other passages that teach us that it is often the poor who are rich in faith, and the rich who are poor before God.
One could argue theologically that Jesus knew this woman's heart, and knew what she would do. And was helping her through a necessary process of faith. Or that he knew what kind of faith she had, that it was robust, and would be an example to his disciples and to future generations. Or, if Jesus was not given this to know from God, if this was how he was living out his true humanity here, which I believe it was, that Jesus, if the Spirit did not reveal the woman's heart to him, was acting wisely to encourage a genuine faith, but discourage a spurious one. Probably none of all this, but it's okay to wonder.
Back to the question. I think it's because God wants something more out of our faith than to just give us answers to our prayers. He'll begin there. But he would never end there. God wants us. He wants all of us. And this means a faith relationship with him. That comes in line with the Jesus Creed. That doesn't stop at one answer, but is drawn in to the community of God.
I can think of at least another reason- related, and a big subject in itself. But what would you say on this from your experience, study and thinking? Why is faith (at least so often) hard?