Cora, the Syrophoenician: A Desperate Mother

I am a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, who had recently come northwest from Canaan to live in the region of Tyre and Sidon. As a single mother, I was filled with terror when my only child, Angela, who had just turned five, was suddenly attacked by a demon. The demon convulsed Angela throwing her to the floor.

Angela and her only toy, a stuffed sheepskin doll, are inseparable. When I get busy with housework, I often hear Angela carrying on a conversation with her doll. I knew Angela was extremely ill when she cast her doll aside. I was in a quandary as to what I should do since I had no money for a doctor.

As I walked to the well to draw water to cool Angela, a young man from the village came by and announced that Jesus had entered a house nearby. I had heard stories about this man named Jesus who could heal people by driving out their demons. But He is a Jew, and I am a Gentile, and Jews and Gentiles aren't the best of friends. Still I thought, "He must listen to me for Angela's sake." I was determined to seek Him out to ask Him to heal my daughter.

Dropping my bucket, I ran to look for Jesus. When I found the house, people were crowded around the open doorway so I slipped in. My eyes rested on the One speaking who appeared to be the leader. He was a powerfully built man—tall and with broad shoulders. From where I stood, I could feel love emanating from Him and concluded that this must be the man named Jesus. But would He, a Jew, listen to me, a Gentile who is just a woman? For my daughter's sake, He must.

Without another thought, I began to push my way through the crowded room. When I got close enough to touch Him, I threw myself at His feet and cried out, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter, Angela, is severely possessed by a demon."

But Jesus did not answer even a word. Then one of the men with Him pointed to the door and said, "Send her away."

Jesus went on as though the order hadn't been given and responded by saying, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

His friendly eyes and kind face belied His unkind words, so I knelt before Him and said, "Lord help me."

Jesus answered, "It is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs."

This Jew's words to me, a Gentile, were harsh, but His demeanor was compassionate, so I said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table."

Then Jesus smiled and said, "Cora, great is your faith. Go your way for your daughter, Angela, is healed."

Somewhat surprised, I got off of my knees and gathered the cloth of my garment in my hand so I could stand. But before I turned to rush home, I touched Jesus on the arm and said, "Thank you!"

When I reached my house, I threw open the door to find Angela cuddling and talking to her doll. I was so relieved to see Angela at play and well again. It was then that I realized that the harsh words He had spoken were to test my faith.

Based on Mark 7:24-30 and Matthew 15:21-28.

Copyright 1997 by John C. Westervelt

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