Upper St. Croix Parish UMC
Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.
“Let It Be Done for You!”
We are experiencing the COVID 19 pandemic, which we have never had such a scary- long journey as this. It affects our whole lifestyle. Many people suffer from losing jobs, houses, and loved ones, and from isolation and loneness. Furthermore, it has made for an increase in addiction, broken relationships, and depression. We, as Christians, try to keep positive minds and strong faith praying to God. However, it is not easy to always keep a positive attitude because it is such a long journey. We do not know when it will end.
Nonetheless, Christians never give up hope in Christ. Christians are people who can change “challenge” to “grace.” Someday, God will say, “Let it be done for you,” as if God made an amazing whole universe in the dark and chaotic world with “a word,” “Let there be light.” What is the biggest challenge to you during a pandemic? At this time, let us think what the most challenging is to you, and I hope we lay it down under the cross of Jesus Christ. May God take it away and say, “Let it be done for you!” I hope that you may hear God’s voice, “let it be done for you as you wish.” New experiences and new environments would be challenges to us, but the challenges might also be good gifts and good chances for a new chapter in our lives, which could experience God’s grace and God’s presence.
Since I came to Wisconsin, I had my first anniversary on August 1st. Time runs fast. Over this past year, I have experienced several challenges. To be honest, every challenge made me disappointed, and a negative question and thought came to my mind first, “could I live out here in Wisconsin?” However, I could experience God’s presence and God’s grace, along with the challenge. My first challenge was that I lost my American mother. Even though I spent time with her right before I came here, it was too much for me. I felt like I am far from her. I could not expect to see my mother’s celebration of her life because I just came here and was far from her place in Chicago. But, you (our congregation) sent me there to see my mother, and I could give my mom a “sweet goodbye.” When I came back here, I realized that I have many new mothers here in our congregation. Many cards, words, and caring were waiting for me. The second challenge was when my car rolled over out of the road in the winter. I missed two churches’ services. But I felt you worried about me and my safety, rather than caring about missing services. One of you stayed with me on the road. That scary time became the time to share God’s grace. I still remember that when I saw a white headed eagle was flying around us, he said to me, “You are blessed because the white headed eagle is a symbol of blessing. It gave me comfort because I was scared.
And another challenge was from wild animals. They picked off my seedling plants. I worked hard to make the spot and planted the seedling plants in that spot. But, they were all gone , eaten by wild animals within three days. Gardening is my joyful habit and my tool of spiritual and emotional meditation feeling connected with God and my family. If I could not do gardening, I would feel disconnect and isolated. I felt sad. I thought I should give up gardening. However, I changed my mind. Okay, they are given for wild animals to say “hi” to them as I am a new person here. What is interesting is that after that happened, no animals bothered my garden. So, now I am enjoying my garden. I am learning how to live with animals as well as plants. All are God’s beautiful creatures. And, now I believe that “I do not live by myself, but Jesus Christ who is in me makes me live out,” as if the apostle Paul confesses, “I have been crucified with Jesus Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
In the scripture today, we meet a Canaanite woman who is experiencing many challenges in her life. From a Jewish perspective, she is a gentile who was treated by Jewish like a dog, not a person. She is a woman who was treated as someone’s possession and ignored her human rights socially, economically, and religiously. Besides, she had a daughter with mental illness. At that time, people thought that mental illness was possession by a demon. All circumstances around her led her to get worse and worse. She might have heard about Jesus Christ, who healed many weakness and sickness and even demon-possession. The news about Jesus spread out over the country.
Even though she heard about Jesus, she could not reach out to Jesus. She could not get a chance to see him because of her circumstance, and her social status blocks her from going to the Jewish land. However, we can guess that she might always think about how to reach out to Jesus to get healing for her daughter. Finally, Jesus came into the gentile land. Verse 21 says, “Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.” It is not usual, but Jesus intentionally went to the gentile land. “Just then,” as if the woman waited for Jesus, she came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me.” She got a chance. She does not want to miss the great opportunity to see Jesus. She shouted, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon” (v. 22). The thing that is amazing is that she called Jesus, “Lord,” and she knows that Jesus is the descendant of David, which means “Messiah.” Jewish people believe that someday the Messiah will come to redeem them. According to Isaiah’s prophecy, the Messiah will come through David’s descendant (Isiah 11:1). She does not only know Jesus but also confesses him as “the Lord and Messiah.”
However, despite her confessing, Jesus did not answer at all. In addition, the disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” How could the disciples say “send her away,” and not say “please heal her?” The disciples were also in the common Jewish mindset, which she is a gentile, a woman, and has a demon-possessed daughter, who is never respected as a human being. As if Jesus knows their mindset, he says, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Because of this, some people misunderstand him that salvation is Jewish’s privilege. Furthermore, salvation is the Christian’s privilege. I boldly say, there is no privilege in God’s grace. Salvation is open for all God’s creatures. Romans 10: 13 says, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Do not make the power of Jesus’ blood down. Jesus died for everyone and rose for everyone. That is the divine grace of God for all. Therefore, we have hope in Jesus Christ.
Let us listen to the scripture. Even though she heard that Jesus was sent for only chosen people, only the royal family, and only privileged people, she does not give up. Instead, she came to Jesus closely and knelt down before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” But, Jesus still gives her a bad answer, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” Wow, it is too much. I cannot imagine how she could handle her emotions. Nowadays, we love our dogs like a part of our family. But at that time, the dogs lived out of a door and ate leftover food, which people throw out in the garbage cans. It is like Jewish people treated gentile people like dogs. Let us think about her.
If you were in her shoes, how would you do? I guess that she is a mother before she is a gentile woman. It is nothing for her to be shameful. She needs to get healing for her daughter. If she misses this chance, her daughter would never be healed. So, she says, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” She means that just a little piece of grace and mercy is enough to heal her daughter. Also, she accepts that she is like a being of dust before God. We all are God’s creatures. Before God, we are equal regardless of any privilege socially, economically, and politically. In God’s grace and love, there is any boundary. The apostle Paul confesses, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35-37). Finally, she got the right answer from the Lord Jesus Christ, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And, her daughter was healed.
We are facing many challenges in our life. The challenges somehow lead us into God’s grace. If you give up in front of the challenges, you never get a new opportunity for God’s grace. Do not try to see only the challenges. I hope that you can see God’s grace beyond the challenges. Jesus teaches us, “This kind can come out only by prayer” (Mark 9:29). “ Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). There is no exception in God’s grace. Even though you failed it once, it is okay. You can get a second chance soon. One day, God may say to you, “let it be done for you as you wish.” I hope that you can hear God’s answer, “let it be done for you.”
Thanks be to God. Amen.