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Stubborn in Rebellion -- Stubborn in Faith
by Tom Goodman
February 23, 2011

Sometimes I have to repent of being too stubborn.  Then again, sometimes I have to repent that I'm not stubborn enough!

This struck me in my daily Bible reading a few weeks ago.  Bible Gateway's reading plan had assigned Exodus 9-11 for the Old Testament reading and then Matthew 15:21-39 for the New Testament reading.

As I reviewed the familiar Old Testament story of the plagues Egypt endured because Pharaoh repeatedly refused to release the Israelites from slavery, I was reminded again of the cost of a hard and obstinate heart.  When we push back against God's calls and ignore God's ways, we'll suffer the inevitable consequences, just like Pharaoh.

But the New Testament reading for the day served as an interesting contrast.  Because in Matthew 15:21-39, I reviewed the story of a very stubborn woman who received honor from Jesus.

Jesus was in a foreign region when a Canaanite woman came and begged him to heal her daughter.  Jesus ignored her and even openly denied her requests for help.  These verses shock people the first time they read them.  But Jesus was holding a mirror up to his own disciples:  He wanted them to see their prejudice and bigotry, and he wanted them to see the depth of faith in a woman they had completely overlooked.

And her depth of faith was evident in her stubbornness.  She simply refused to take "no" for an answer.  She believed in Christ's ability to help her, and she wouldn't give up on her belief in his willingness to help her.  So she persisted, she pressed, she called out -- and Jesus gladly responded to her immovable faith and healed her daughter.

We can be stubborn like the Pharaoh God condemned -- and we can fail to be stubborn like the Canaanite woman Christ commended!

It's not often that my daily Bible readings converge into a single challenge like that.  But I'll admit I haven't been able to get my mind off it ever since.  How quickly do you give up on a prayer, a hope, a dream?  Are you famous for your stubborn faith -- or just famous for your stubborn rebellion?


P.S.  I'm still serving in Jakarta, and I expect to arrive in Austin late Sunday night.  This Sunday, welcome Marcus Bell-Winston to the pulpit.  Marcus is going to plant a church in the Mueller area of Austin, and I wanted you to meet him and pray with him for the fulfillment of his church's vision.

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