Summary: When one is told that their faith is great, it bears our study and meditation. What were the marks of this Canaanite ladies’ faith? There are at least four marks of great faith!
The Marks of Great Faith
Jesus Christ did not exaggerate or mince words. He spoke the truth and the truth alone. When He applauds someone’s faith as "great," then it ought to make us take notice.
Only twice, both with Gentiles, does Jesus Christ call someone’s faith "great." Numerous times He reproached those that had no faith, and rebuked His disciples for having little faith, but rarely did He applaud faith as "great."
I dare say, none of us this morning would claim to have "great faith." We might say that our faith is weak but not great. And yet our text points to a woman among the Gentiles that Christ considered to have displayed great faith - the kind of faith that meets with His heartiest approval.
In our text we find a woman whom Jesus said to her, “O woman, great is thy faith.” Jesus said this about a woman who would not leave until she got what she wanted from Christ.
Faith is the cup we lift up to God for Him to fill with answers to prayer. Faith is the hand that grabs hold of the promises of God.
When one is told that their faith is great, it bears our study and meditation.
What were the marks of this Canaanite ladies’ faith?
There are at least four marks of great faith!
I. Great faith STARTS WITH A GREAT PROBLEM
The only materials God can use in building our faith are our difficulties. If we can figure something out, we do not need faith. If a problem is a minor problem and can be solved by our reasoning and common sense, it needs no faith.
God doesn’t build great faith with small trials.
This woman had a great difficulty. Her daughter was grievously vexed with a devil. I have no doubt but that by the time she decided to seek out Jesus, she had tried every remedy she knew to try. She had likely been to every doctor and tried every home remedy she could seek out to help her daughter. By the time she seeks out Jesus she has become a very desperate woman. All hope has about gone from her. She didn’t know what else to do.
This Canaanite woman had a great trial; her daughter was grievously vexed with a devil. God doesn’t build great faith in us with little troubles; great faith is not built by climbing small mountains. It is the cliff that is impossible to climb that challenges our faith into greatness.
By her own assessment, her daughter was "grievously vexed with a devil."
This mother felt the helplessness of watching her daughter under the control of the demons. And so she cried to Jesus, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David!" The text suggests that she did this repeatedly. She was desperate.
She understood that she could do many things for her little daughter, but she could not deliver her from being demonized. She had a great problem.
George Muller put it this way: "God delights to increase the faith of His children. We ought, instead of wanting no trials before victory, no exercise for patience, to be willing to take them from God’s hand as a means. I say - and say it deliberately - trials, obstacles, difficulties, and sometimes defeats, are the very food of faith."
Great faith STARTS WITH A GREAT PROBLEM
II. Great faith is SECURED IN A GREAT PERSON
What all this lady knew about Christ we don’t know. Obviously she had heard of His miracle working power. Perhaps she had met some people who had been healed by Him. She calls Him “Lord” and in vs. 25 she worshiped Him saying, “Lord, help me.”
This lady was fully convinced of the Lord’s ability to heal her daughter. Great faith has confidence in God’s ability.
There was no "plan B" for her, no other option, and no other one to whom she could turn. She looked to Christ, and trusted in His ability to meet her desperate need.
Eph. 3:20 “Now unto Him Who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us...”
Before I would go to someone to make a request, I need to be persuaded that this person has the ability to fulfill that request.
The more we learn of Christ, the more we know about His ability, the more faith is generated in us. Tozer said that faith is an organ of knowledge. We cannot place faith in someone we do not know. And the more we know someone, the more we either trust or distrust that person.
This lady’s faith was properly placed. We will never build great faith in our lives until we get our total focus on the Person Who has the ability to answer our prayers.