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Seen and Heard By God

Matthew 15:21-28

By Kai Arsenault

March 26, 2023

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All right. Good morning. Good morning. My name is Kai Arsenal. Me and my wife Katie, we lead the campus ministry we lead the campus ministry at Northeastern, at Simmons and Suffolk. And we love being able to do that. For our job, we really tried to live in the city. That was one of our main goals, is we wanted to live as close as we could to the schools that we were helping out at. And the thing about the Northeastern Suffolk Simmons area is that's, like, some of the most expensive places to live in Boston. And we were really hoping for a miracle from God to be able to live in there. And a couple months before, we would have had to jump on just any place we could find. We got accepted into this tiny shoebox of an apartment in the Back Bay Area, which was a total blessing from God. But every year it's sort of been this, like, crossing our fingers, hoping they don't raise rent by too much. And we were hearing that this year might be like the year that it happens, because we were hearing that some of the apartments around us, the rent was being raised by, like, five, six, $700 a month, which if that happened, we got to find somewhere else to live because there's no way we're affording that.

And we just got our resigning letter back in the mail the other day, and they only raised it by $100, which was such a blessing. And we were, like, dancing in our tiny kitchen with our mini oven and just having a ball rejoicing that we get to stay in Boston and live in the city. But this is how life is sometimes. You pray for small things, you pray for big things. You get to celebrate when God answers, and you kind of wrestle with difficulty when sometimes he doesn't. And for us, I'm sure we all can reflect on times where we've said a small quick prayer of, like, god just help things to go this way. And they do. In times where we've prayed that and they don't. But today we're going to be talking about being seen and heard by God. That this idea that God does see and hear each and every one of us, and that we just have to realize that.

It's kind of already been announced. But this month, the month of March is Woman's History Month. And there's so many great stories that you can read that celebrate different women throughout history. But our church, the theme for Women's History Month has been seen and heard. This idea of we are seen and heard, that women are seen and heard because God sees and hears us. And it's what we're going to be talking about today. And we're actually going to be studying out a story of a woman who was also seen and heard by God. We're going to be starting off in Matthew 15. And being seen and heard, isn't that something that we all desire, though? I kind of told my little funny story about rent, and who knows? Maybe next year it'll get raised a ton again. But we really pray that man, God see us and see our needs, see how much we want this. And I pray that you hear our prayers that you can come in for us. And whether you've grown up going to church your whole life or you don't even know that you believe in God, there's probably a good chance that at some point in your life that you shot up a quick prayer to God, asking Him, god, see me in this situation. Hear me out. Come through for me.

And this is the same situation that this woman finds herself in. In Matthew 15, you know, we've been studying out the Book of Matthew and now we're we're about, you know, halfway through it, and we've seen Jesus interact with so many different people. We've seen Jesus kind of fit his stereotypical mold of serving the poor and healing those who are ill. We've seen Him eating with sinners and pouring out love and niceties to people. But this isn't all that Jesus does. Jesus is also radical. He challenges people. He challenges hypocrisy and all of the stuff that existed in their world and that still exists nowadays. Jesus was not this endless array of sunshine and rainbows and just saying nice things and making people feel good all the time. No. Jesus was full of grace and truth. And in Matthew 15, verse 21, this is one such story. In Matthew 15, verse 21, it says, "Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, lord, Son of David, have mercy on me. My daughter is demon possessed and suffering terribly. Jesus did not answer a word.

So his disciples came to Him and urged him, send her away, for she keeps crying out after us. He answered, I was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel. The woman came and knelt before him. Lord, help me, she said. He replied, It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs. Yes, it is, Lord, she said. Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table. Then Jesus said, woman, you have great faith. Your request is granted. And her daughter was healed at that moment."

This is not really your typical Sunday story that you hear about with Jesus. When you think about who is Jesus, this is probably not the story that comes to mind for many of you. Whether this is your first time reading the story or your hundredth time reading this story, it probably still kind of shocks you and makes you wriggle in your seat a little bit, makes you wonder, I wonder, did he really say that to this woman? Did this story really happen? Like, who is this Jesus? Is this a different guy than who we read about in the rest of the Gospels?

And this morning I have the pleasure of being able to preach to you about this story. So I appreciate Stewart giving me this for my topic to be able to talk to you guys about. Clearly an easy one for us to listen to. But even though there's tons of things that are confusing here, even when you read the story, it feels like it's full of contradictions. We're going to walk through this story together. We're going to talk about what is happening. What is this woman's heart? What is Jesus's heart in this story? Because it sort of even exemplifies the power and the mystery behind God. And I think the power and the mystery behind who Jesus is is seen in stories like this.

My first point for us today is a God who sees the invisible. We're talking about how God sees and hears us. But God is a God who sees the invisible. And as we read the story, I just want to direct our attention again to this woman in the beginning of the story. She's looking for her daughter to be healed, and she comes to Jesus. She goes outside of her city and meets Jesus, where he's at? She addresses him as Lord. And what does Jesus do? He doesn't say a word. That's what it says. He doesn't say a word. It doesn't even indicate that he acknowledges that she's there or crying out to him. Eventually his disciples ask, Hey, Jesus, like, this lady has been following us and has been crying out to us. It says, she keeps crying out. So this wasn't just like a one time, hey, Jesus. And then no answer. And then, okay, no, she kept crying out to Jesus. And Jesus, from all that we can read in this story, seems to all but ignore this woman. And it's this very strange story where he gives really no answer to this woman.

Can you imagine being in this situation that you're not even, like, living among the Jews, you're not even living among the Israelites, and you just hear about this man who supposedly has been healing people, and you think, Maybe he can heal my daughter. And so you go out and you find him. You feel uncomfortable. This is breaking all sorts of norms in your society, and you yell out to him. You fall to your face and cry out for him to save your daughter. And there's not a ton of recognition that you get from him. I was reading, trying to figure out, how do I understand this? How do I process what is going on in this story here? And I can only do so much. So I was looking at what other people say. I was looking up a bunch of commentaries and what some scholars say about this story. And one of the people that I was reading about stood out. His name is Alexander McLaren. And in his exposition of this story, he says "In her humility, she does not bring her child, nor ask him to go to her. In her agony, she has nothing to say but to spread her grief before him as thinking that he of whose pity she has heard needs but to know in order to alleviate and requires no motives urged to induce him to help in her faith. She thinks that his power can heal from afar. What more could he have desired? All the more startling, then, is his demeanor. All the conditions which he usually required were present in her. But he who does not meet her with swift and joyful answers has no word to say to this poor, needy, persevering, humble and faithful supplicant. The fountain seems frozen from which such streams of blessing were supposed to flow. His mercy seems clean gone. Has his compassion failed? A Christ being silent to a sufferer's cry is a paradox which seems to contradict the whole gospel story. It is a situation that no Christian could have painted if it had not been painted by Christ himself.

This is the story that we see here. This is how, when we read this story, probably many of us feel and relate to. Why possibly would Jesus not welcome her with open arms as he does with so many others that he heals? And as I was trying to wrap my head around this whole thing, people kind of give different answers, and some people try to explain away what Jesus is saying by saying, oh, it actually wasn't as cold or as the way that we read it wouldn't have been the way that this woman would have heard it. But I don't know, I mean, it seems pretty straightforward to me. There is a truth that Jesus was here to preach first to God's people, to the Israelites, to the Jews. And so because of that, it would have been expected for him to really focus on healing and preaching to and being a light to God's people before eventually being a light to all people.

But I don't know, this doesn't sit right with me either, because if you read seven chapters earlier in Matthew eight, he heals the centurion, who was without a doubt a Greek, or he was with probably a Roman, and was definitely a Gentile. And what's up with that? This situation with the centurion is far different than the situation with this woman. In Matthew eight, verse five through seven. This is a little excerpt from When He Heals the Centurion's Servant. It says, "When Jesus had entered Capernum, a centurion came to him asking for help. Lord, he said, my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly. Jesus said to him, Shall I come and heal him?" Very different than what we read here in Matthew 15.

So we're left with this question why does Jesus not answer to her the way that he does to the centurion? It certainly isn't the fact that she's a woman, because as people have already shared, Jesus has incredible care for a woman all throughout the Bible. It's not because of the social norm that would have existed for a Jewish person to interact with a Canaanite, because Jesus breaks those social traditions all the time. Talking to people that no one else would have talked to, talking and touching lepers, talking and touching to the bleeding woman. So many situations where Jesus defies these expectations that people may have had for him. So why is it that this story goes down in this way? The truth is actually, I don't totally know. I don't even know if there's a true answer to why this situation happens the way that it does. Surely at the end of this little beginning of the story, at the end of verse 23, anyone would have felt rejected, they would have felt utterly invisible in the eyes of Jesus. But I think this story is here, that this story happens, because isn't that how we can all feel from time to time? Isn't it so normal for anyone, whether you've lived your life devoted to God or whether you're just turning to Him now to feel completely invisible to God? Even though it feels like you're doing all of the right things, that still your prayers are not heard, that your cries are unanswered, that you remain invisible to God. It feels like we're unseen, but those are the people that God does see.

This woman makes a choice. Even though it would have been so easy, it might have even been justified for her to walk away sad, understanding that she was invisible to this man who was there for his people. She chose something different. She chose to believe that she was seen and heard. Take a little step forward with me to the end of this story. Outside of verse 23, when she falls to his feet and receives no response, let's look at the end in verse 28 again. Jesus says, "Your request is granted, and your daughter and her daughter was healed at that moment. Her daughter was healed in that moment. And think about how this woman must have felt then. All the things that she might have felt five minutes ago, 2 seconds ago even, have all vanished in this moment. What a hopeless situation she's been living in for who knows how many years. All of this time, her daughter possessed by a demon with no answers on how to be healed. But do you think that in this moment when her daughter was healed, that she felt so seen by Jesus? Don't you think that in this moment say anything you will about the journey or the interaction beforehand, even if you have the hubris to say that Jesus was being mean, that Jesus was unjust to not swiftly heal her daughter. Don't you think that by the end that by the end of this interaction that she had with Jesus that this woman would have felt more seen by Jesus than anyone that she's ever interacted with in her entire life? Even though this woman will go home to a foreign land that doesn't even recognize the God that just healed her and her daughter, she will go on for the rest of her life feeling seen and heard by this strange man, Jesus Christ. And this is the impact that Jesus had. Interactions and the journey along the way is full of ups and downs. And I think for many of us, there's not really a clear explanation. There's not usually an explanation for, oh, this is why these prayers weren't answered, or this is why these things happen or didn't happen. Sometimes we can see in hindsight is 2020, and sometimes we see, oh, God was working for this bigger cause, but it doesn't always end like that. But God does see and hear all of us. God does see you. Even if you feel invisible, you're seen by God, and it's shown because in the end, God offers to save us all and to heal us all.

For me, being understood is actually something I've had to navigate a little bit throughout my life and throughout my childhood. For my mom, my mom grew up in Japan, and both of her parents did as well. And they speak Japanese, and I would say that they speak very little to no English, and so communicating in English is not really feasible. So that's sort of a difficulty on one side. For my dad, my dad's parents were actually both deaf, and so that was like another challenge there because communicating with someone who's deaf is also very challenging. And for my dad growing up, both of his parents being deaf, it's a very isolating thing to have. To not be able to hear is very isolating. And it can even be embarrassing at times, because when you can no longer hear other people or even yourself, what happens over time is the way that you talk also becomes distorted. And so not only can you not hear people, but people can't really understand you. And so it becomes very isolating, it becomes very embarrassing, and it becomes very difficult to communicate. And my grandfather, my dad's dad, in wanting to distance himself and his family and especially his kids as far as he could from this thing that he felt so isolated by didn't want to teach his kids how to sign language. Which, when you think about, is kind of a crazy situation that my dad and his brother, my uncle, are living in this family where both of their parents are deaf and they don't know sign language. So how do they communicate with each other? Well, they stomp on the floorboards and yell really loud and try to mouth words, and eventually they're able to communicate that's a little bit how my dad grew up. My dad grew up yelling and lots of loud noises and stomping and banging on walls to get each other's attention. And it sort of worked for them. They sort of figured out this way to be able to communicate. For myself, my grandma actually lived with me for most of my young life, and so I actually kind of inherited a similar way of communication that I never learned sign language. I still don't know sign language, but me and my grandma were able to communicate because I would walk into a room and just stomp on the floor a little bit, and that would get her attention. She would know I was there, and I would talk really loud and try to mouth my words really clear.

And she was like a genius with that. And she could understand just by reading your lips what you were saying. But it made it difficult to communicate. It wasn't even always understand for me, easy for me to understand what she was saying. I had sort of learned how to understand her, but it wasn't very easy. I remember even as a middle schooler, I'm doing my own middle school thing, and I'm having friends over for sleepovers and all that. And my grandma is living with us, and so she kind of does her own thing. But every once in a while, she might ask me to like, hey, can you get me something from the shelf? Or ask me a question about something. My friends are seeing us communicate with each other. And there was one point where I was talking to one of my friends, and I mean, middle school boys, they're known for their sensitivity and for thinking before they speak and for all of those good things. And in my conversation, he goes, I think somehow I brought up how my grandma was deaf, and he was shocked. He was like, Wait, your grandma's deaf?

And I'm kind of like, seeing if he's joking. Like what's going on here? Yeah, no, she's deaf. And you couldn't tell? It's pretty obvious that she's deaf. And he goes, no. Oh, my goodness. I thought the grandma that was living with you was your Japanese grandma who doesn't speak English. And that friend is still a close friend of mine. That's Ethan Lopez, who's still one of my best friends. But honestly, it was sort of true. And I don't even blame him too much because it was difficult to understand, and it actually made communicating very difficult. It made understanding each other difficult. Even though we had a relationship and a friendship and we were able to communicate, there was still a certain amount of disconnect. She couldn't always understand me, and I couldn't always understand her. And that made our relationship challenging in its own way.

But isn't that how it is so often with God? That we're not fully able to understand God, that we feel like he's not able to fully understand us? That we can feel so invisible, so misunderstood by God? You know, my wife Katie is going to share a little bit about this idea of being understood by God, of being seen and heard by God as well.

Hello. Good morning. So I think one of the most powerful things about the idea of being seen and heard is that most of the time in our culture, we are not seen and heard, especially as women. And so God valuing women and wanting to see and to hear them. That's a big deal. And the theme of our church, the theme of the month, the first seen and heard that we have in our international fellowship, actually comes from the book of Genesis, chapter 16. It comes from a story about a woman named Hagar. And I wanted to share some of the treasure that I find in Genesis, chapter 16 with you. Now, to give you a tiny bit of context here, Hagar, the woman we're about to read about, is living in what will become a Jewish family. But Judaism doesn't actually exist yet. The only person that is a part of the family that will become the nation of the Jews at this point is Abraham and his wife. That's it. That's all that exists of Israel at this point is just Abraham and his wife and God. So things are pretty small. He's not an Egyptian person. He's actually moved in from a different area in the ancient Middle East and he's made his way toward kind of the area closer ish to Egypt. We have some financial ties and things like that. And this young woman, Hagar, that we're about to read about, she is an Egyptian woman. Now, she's been pulled out of her culture, out of her economy, out of her family, out of her social network to be a servant in a family's home that does not belong in the society or culture that she lives in. And for this to be the case for this young woman, I just can't help but assume that at certain points in her life something has gone wrong, right? That this is not what she expected to be living in kind of a cultural isolation and extremely different religion and extremely different lifestyle and culture on the outskirts of where she could have lived. Then, once she's taken into the home of Abraham and Sarah, she finds out that they have been struggling with infertility for decades. For decades, God has promised to give this couple children and that promise has not come true yet. And so not only is she living as a servant in their household, but also she is later asked to become a concubine, which is an actual traditional part of this ancient culture that she would have a child with the master of her household. And that child would then become a part of their family. Which, once again, not, I think, what she expected for her life, not the vision that I think she painted. I could imagine that she might feel invisible or ignored. And yet she has this interaction with God.

In Genesis chapter 16, in verse chapter seven, the angel of the Lord finds her after she runs away from this incredibly difficult situation. In verse seven, it says, "The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert. It was the spring that is beside the road to shore. And he said, Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going? I'm running away from my mistress, Sarai, she answered. Then the angel of the Lord told her, go back to your mistress and submit to her. And the angel added, I will so increase your descendants so that they will be too numerous to count."

Now, for those of you who have read this story, you might think, oh, she's supposed to go back to Sarai. She's supposed to go back to this family that has used her right for financial needs in their family, but also to have children. But not only that. The thing I failed to mention before was that after she gets pregnant with Abraham, with Sarah's husband, Sarah is so jealous because of her lifetime struggle of infertility and the emotions wrapped up in that, that she ends up mistreating Hagar as a slave. So this woman is then told, Go back to this home, which kind of like the Canaanites woman interactions with Jesus is not really what you would normally expect God to say, right? Oh, you know what? I have a perfect and wonderful home for you. No struggle. It's okay. I'll take you away. You'll be able to raise your children in a paradise. That's not what God says. He says, go back. Go back to the home where you belong. And when I think about why, it's because I wonder what it would be like for a single woman with a young child, who's had a child with a man that does not belong in Egypt, to wander back into her hometown and try to find a way to be taken care of. She wouldn't have been. She would not have been looked after. She would have been alone. She would have been even more invisible.

And so God says instead, go back to the family that will take care of you, that will look after you, that will see you, even though it won't be perfect. And I wonder what's her heart? How does she feel at this confusing instruction? Well, she tells us in verse 13, She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her, "You are the God who sees me. For she said, I have now seen the one who sees me." This woman, whose entire lifetime has been invisible, feels seen by a God she does not know. And one of the most inspiring pieces of this story to me is that no other woman in the Book of Genesis gets the written real estate, that this young Egyptian invisible woman gets. An entire chapter all to herself. She is the first woman in the Bible who gives a new name to God, and she is forever remembered by the way that she feels seen and heard by the God of Israel. I find Hagar, in all the confusion and struggle and rejection, to be so inspiring, because even though her circumstances might have made her feel as though she was not seen and heard, she was able to see the reality, the truth, that God does see her and that he does hear her. And that is true for every woman that walks this earth today.

I think even before we go and read the next part of this story, it's important for everyone to know if you're sitting here today, even if you feel invisible, even if you feel unseen by God, that God does see you. That in God's eyes you are seen and you are heard. That Jesus is here. He came and died so that you would be seen and heard. But it's sort of this contradiction. Because even though we have to believe and know that God does see us, even though we're invisible point number two is we also have to fight to be seen and heard because it's sort of this duality where we are seen and heard, but we also have to fight to be seen and heard and both exist at the same time. Even though they might feel like they can't exist together, they do. And it's part of the mystery of God. After this woman falls to Jesus's feet and asks him a second time to help her, he replies it is not right to take the children's bread and to toss it to the dogs. And with unbelievable faith and courage, with persistence, she disagrees with Jesus in this moment.

That's what this woman is doing. In this moment. She's disagreeing with Jesus, her lord. She replies, "Yes, it is Lord." And I think something that always stands out about this story is that we are not so delicate and nor is God. Jesus was not delicate in the way that he talked to and interacted with people. And Jesus was okay with people not being delicate in the way that they interacted with Him. That there is this sense that God desires for us to fight and to struggle with Him, for us to wrestle with the real things in our heart with God, that if we if we don't like where something is in our life to plead to God that he would change it. And if it feels like no, there's some humility maybe mixed in there, but that we would ask God to change his mind, that we would fight with God for the things that we care about. He desires this so much so that he names his people. After this God's people were called the Israelites. And where that name came from was from this man Jacob. And in Genesis 32, verse 25 is the story of when this man Jacob received this name Israel which would become the name for all of God's people.

It says, "When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, Let me go for it as daybreak. But Jacob replied, I will not let you go unless you bless me. The man asked, what is your name? Jacob, he answered. Then the man said, Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel because you have struggled with God and humans and have overcome."

This is a story that identified God's people. The idea that this man Jacob was willing to hold on to God, to wrestle God, to struggle, to fight, to be blessed, was something that God so deeply respected that he said, all my people will be called this. Being International Woman's History Month, I want to share the story of one woman who also, not necessarily against God, but in her life, struggled and fought in order to see a miracle take place. And the woman I want to share about is Dorothy Vaughn. And Dorothy Vaughn, you might recognize that name. And a movie, Hidden Figures, came out, and she was one of the people in that movie that was highlighted. But in NASA, before computers were as prevalent as they are nowadays, all of these different calculations need to be made. And so they would have people that were computers. These people were like human computers. Their job was to just compute equations all day. And Dorothy Vaughn was one of these women. And at this point, NASA was actually still segregated. And so this woman was in an all black quarter of NASA's computer team. But this woman was so successful and so good at what she did, she actually rose up very quickly and became the first African woman supervisor at NASA and even prevailed all through the desegregation and remained supervisor. She played critical roles in helping people to land on the moon. That this woman, Dorothy Vaughn, despite all of the reasons for her to give up and quit, all the things that she had to fight for, played a huge role in man being able to walk on the moon for the first time in human history. People were sent to space because this woman fought for that miracle. And it's incredible to see women like this doing so many amazing and great things throughout history.

And there's another woman that I think is maybe even greater than Dorothy Vaughn, and that's my wife. And she's going to share a little bit for you guys right now about some of the ways that she's really fought for her relationship with God in her own life.

He's crazy. I'm sorry. He's crazy. Dorothy Vaughn takes the cake. I'm terrible at math, but women in STEM. But yes, I think that fighting to be seen and heard is such an important part of me trying to be a woman of God. A couple of weeks ago, just during a wrap up, during a sermon, I had shared kind of vaguely that in this season of my life, I've been struggling with anxiety in a way that I've never experienced before. And first, I just wanted to say thank you, because I have had so many women in this congregation come to me and just express their love and their care and their sympathy. They've shared that they're praying. And I said that for about 20 seconds. And I cannot tell you the number of women that have come up to comfort me. And it just makes me feel like this church is my home. And I love you guys so much, and I feel so grateful to be part of this body, but I wanted to share a little bit of what it's been like kind of in this fight to be seen and heard.

I've always been a pretty high strung woman. My mom always jokes that when I was a little kid, I would, like, lay the blocks out on the floor and then put my head down sideways next to them to make sure that they were perfectly in line and straight. And so I've always been just a pretty organized kid. I like to get things done. I love schedules, planners, when calendars get published, it's like my favorite day of the year. I just really enjoy a high level of organization and also tend to be pretty easy to stress out. For any of you who know me, please don't ever scare me because I genuinely will fear for my life if you pop out from behind a door. But in the last year, my anxiety has grown in a way that has been really foreign to me. Particularly starting in the month of January, I started experiencing physical symptoms and manifestations of anxiety unlike anything I had ever had before. This was a constant stomach ache day and night. I was getting migraines three or four days a week. It felt like someone had taken a wire and pulled it tight and strung it between my shoulders.

And there was just this like, vibrating tight energy inside of me all the time. I would text my friends and say, the rage monster is back. Please pray for me. It felt like a never ending energy bouncy ball was just like, running around inside of my body. I was irritable and exhausted and also unable to sleep and still am, honestly. I was diagnosed with a panic disorder. And the worst part of my anxiety has been my panic attacks. These are things, they happen sometimes when I'm in the car, sometimes when I'm at the grocery store, sometimes when I'm doing my job. It has been kind of random. But the most difficult manifestations of my panic disorder have been nocturnal panic attacks. So it's pretty regularly for me to wake up two or three times a night gasping for breath, feeling like I'm dying. So, as you might imagine, it has not been a season of a lot of peace and resonance and safety with God that has not described my life. And I've been through things before. I lost my dad to a really difficult battle with cancer when I was 19 years old. There was a lot of trauma wrapped up in that personal experience of mine. So grief and struggle are not new to me. But I will tell you that for most of my life, whenever anything has gotten hard, being with God has fixed it. Like, spending time with God has brought me peace and serenity and has made me feel surrender. And even if then when I exited my time with God, all of the stress and emotion came back, it felt as though my time with God was kind of a haven. That has not been true in this season of anxiety. When I'm trying to sit still and be with God, it gets worse. And when I get quiet, it gets worse. Like, being with God makes my anxiety harder sometimes because it's taking away distraction. And I feel totally and completely foreign to myself. I feel like my version of me that I know has completely and entirely disappeared. And to be totally honest with you, for a little bit there, I kind of gave up on being a spiritual person when it came to my anxiety. I thought if working out and getting a good night's sleep and having a good breakfast helps me feel more peace, then that's more important than me having a quiet time.

So if I only have a certain amount of time in the day, I'm going to take care of myself physically because I need to be sane. And I stopped making spiritual choices and decisions because it felt like they weren't working. And then I looked in the mirror just a couple of weeks ago and I said to myself, this is not the woman I want to be. And even this is not what I believe. I believe that God is bigger than anxiety. I believe that God is bigger than mental health. I believe that God is bigger than all of the reasons why I might feel invisible. And what I believe more than anything is Psalm 27, verse 13. I am still confident of this. I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. That is what I am most confident about.

So don't get me wrong, it wasn't a light switch. And it's not as though all of a sudden my quiet times have become this peaceful, serenity paradise all over again. But what I will tell you is that at night before we go to sleep, Kai and I take time to pray to beg God that I'll be able to sleep through the night and won't have a panic attack. And to be honest, sometimes it works. And I feel so seen and heard by God. But I've decided that I don't have an option. I'm a disciple of Jesus. I love God and I believe that he sees me. And so even if the anxiety feels bigger sometimes, it's simply not true. And I will fight to be seen and heard.

You know, I seriously, seriously respect my wife as a woman of God. But you know, nothing good comes without fighting for it. Miracles do not happen unless you fight for them. It was true for this Canaanite woman, it was true for so many women throughout history. It's been true for my wife and it's true for all of us sitting here today. Are you fighting for the miracles in your life. Are you fighting to be seen and heard by God? Are you fighting to feel seen and heard by God? If you aren't spending daily time with God, reading your Bible, praying, pouring out your heart, soaking it in, you're not fighting to be seen and heard by God. If some of you have sin in your life right now that you just let fester and sit, that you think, oh, no, this is okay, at least it's not something else, that you haven't cut it out, that you haven't talked to people to get help. If you haven't tried to get into the light with it, with some other disciples, then you're not fighting to be seen and heard by God. If you're allowing these bitter roots to grow up in your heart that you feel towards people or interactions that you've had that cause you to get bitter towards people or to a group of people and you're not addressing it and you're not bringing that to God, then you're not fighting to be seen and heard by God.

Some of you, you have doubts and cracks in your faith right now, hard things in your life that have made it challenging, but that you've allowed to put distance between you and God. It is time to work through that with God. It's time to work through that with other people. It's time to fight to be seen and heard by God. It's time to fight, to have impossible prayers, to have big dreams, to have persistent faith that cannot be knocked down, because that is what it means to fight to be seen and heard by God. And though God does desire the moments that we fight and wrestle with Him, and those are important things that we need to be doing, we also need to learn the value of what God has to offer us.

And my last point for us today is crumbs from his table. I want to jump back into this passage and focus on the last part of her response. In verse 27, she says that even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Master's table. And I mean, I mean, let's just unpack that for a second. She's like taking on this sort of, like, identity comparison that Jesus is making about her being a dog in comparison to the children in this household situation, which is crazy.

What humility that would take, what lack of what desperation that would take to say, no, I accept that. If that is what you say, then I accept that, but even just the crumbs will be good enough for me. That's this woman's attitude. This is why she was complimented with having such great faith. What strange humility to have. What a strange way to think about life, to think about God, to interact with Jesus. Why would she ever just want the crumbs?

Let's read in Matthew 13 in verse 44. This is another story. It's kind of all we're jumping around Matthew a little bit here. And in verse 44 says, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. It compares sort of this gift that God is willing to give us, that Jesus came here to give to this treasure, this treasure that was worth to this man selling everything to buy this field and gain this treasure. That's why this woman was so humble, so overjoyed to receive even just the crumbs that Jesus had to offer.

She accepted it because she understands that what Jesus has to offer is greater than any sort of feast that she could find in her own hometown, any sort of feast that she could build for herself. Even the crumbs were better than that. For myself, I don't always have that mentality. It can be hard for me to not want the feast that the world has to offer and to choose the crumbs that God gives us instead, even though they are so much more valuable. Even in my own life, I mean, food in general is a thing that I'm very much drawn to. And I remember when I was in college, me and Katie were just dating at this point, and we had just had a date, and I was getting home and my roommates and I decided, hey, it's been hard for us to spend time together. Let's all go out to eat, and we're going to go to PF. Changs, which, if you know me, PF. Changs is like my die hard favorite restaurant. That was like, growing up every birthday would come around and it would be like, where do you want to eat for your birthday. Without a doubt, PF. Changs. That's where I'm trying to go. I don't know what it is, but I just love their food. And so we were going there and I was like, oh, yes, this is the day. This is going to be awesome. And as we're in the car, we're leaving to head to PF. Chang's, and we're all excited. We're spending some time together. We're blasting music. And I get a call from Katie, and I'm like, okay, I guess I should probably pick up. And so I pick up and we're talking, and she's clearly distressed, and I'm like, hey, so what's going on? And she says, Something happened to my car. I think I ran over something and the tire popped. And so I just called triple A, but I'm in a part of town that I'm not too familiar with, and there's like this drunk guy who's, like, yelling right near my car, and it's making me feel kind of uncomfortable and unsafe. And me being the tunnel vision dummy that I am, was like, oh, but I'm on my way to this feast. I was like, okay, well, let me know when Triple A gets there. And if something else happens, give me a call. And if any of you don't know why everyone in the room is laughing, that was not the good move. That was not the right way to handle that situation. And thank goodness for disciples who were able to help me and correct me and help me to grow in some of these areas. And I had to apologize to Katie and tell her, no, you're right. That was such an idiotic move. I want to be there to protect you next time I'm there for you. But the reason that that happened is because I was so focused on this feast. And you know what came from that feast? It was me losing some money and getting a little bit bloated. And that was it. That was all I gained from that feast. And because of that because of that, I missed out on these crumbs that I could have made Katie feel so seen and so heard. But I ignored that for this feast. And and amen that Katie is so gracious with me that she still loved me and she was still willing to marry me through all of that craziness.

But if you're in this room right now and you're deciding between the feast that the world has to offer and even just crumbs from God's table, what are you waiting for? It is so clear what you should be choosing. There should be no doubt in your mind that crumbs from God's table will surpass any feast, any day or night. Take it from me. Take it from the Canaanite woman. Take it from hundreds of disciples in this room that what God offers is worth so much more than anything you could have or receive from this world.

You know, today there are two people who have decided that the crumbs from God are greater than the feast of this world. They've decided to give up everything to gain the treasure in the field. They've decided that they want to follow Jesus and they're going to be baptized today. We're going to be able to see that happen. But what about you? If you have not been baptized, what are you waiting for? If you're hesitating to accept the crumbs from God's table, stop being foolish. Don't be like me going to PF. Changs when there's something so much more important out there.

Will you give yourself to God who sees the invisible? And will you fight to be seen? Amen.

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