“How could this have happened?” Ann flung out her hand in a gesture of despair and anger. “I would never have believed that the man I love and respect could do this!” She paced to the wall and, turning, started back again. She wiped her tears with a wilted tissue, threw it with the others into the wastebasket and plucked a fresh one from the box.
“How did I fail him?” She asked herself aloud. “I’ve loved him to the best of my ability. He says I’m not responsible, but I still feel like somehow it must be my fault.” Ann wiped her eyes again and blew her nose. “I feel like a kicked, useless dog!” Fresh pain pulsed through her heart. Only God, in time, would heal her anguish.
Jessica sat by the fire, huddled over a cup of hot tea that she held in shaking hands. She wasn’t cold, but her hands trembled around the hot cup.
How could you have been so stupid? she asked herself. You know adultery is sin! How could you cheat on Greg when you love him dearly? You must be some kind of dog to do an awful thing like this! A new wave of shame flooded her heart. What will happen when Greg finds out? Any sensible man would leave you to the consequences of your own foolishness!
Many women have gone through one of these experiences. Some women, like Ann, feel somehow responsible for sins that they did not commit. Other women, like Jessica, stagger daily under a burden of guilt and shame. They face each new day, knowing that it will be filled with depression and self-recrimination.
In the story of the Syrophoenician woman found in Mark 7:25-30, an unnamed woman suffered because her daughter was possessed by demons. Each new day, her heart writhed as she watched her daughter’s agonies of mind and body.
When she asked Jesus for help, He uncharacteristically implied that she was no better than a dog—the worst epithet that a Jew could use—and that Jews were more worthy of His aid than she. Actually, He was testing her faith and, by doing so, strengthening it. She reminded Jesus that even the Jew’s dogs could crawl under the table and pick up the crumbs that had been dropped there. She understood that God can provide forgiveness, healing and emotional restoration for those “dogs of us” who creep in shame under His table, or who have been kicked there by someone else’s folly. Under Jesus’ table, she knew that she would find forgiveness and hope, and she expected even more spiritual sustenance for tomorrow.
Ann, Jessica and those of us who live with their kinds of pain can take heart. God doesn’t want to keep us under His table, licking up mere spiritual crumbs. He said, “‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’” (John 10:10). God has apportioned forgiveness and blessing for us. If we have faith to ask for only crumbs of blessing when in our troubled state, Jesus offers to seat us at His bountiful table and give us an ample serving of “the children’s bread.”