24 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. 25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about vulnerability, both this woman’s and mine. She's not in a social position to approach Christ, not in the right ethnic group. She was not part of any protected inner circle that would recommend her to Christ.
Perhaps what I find so moving is the woman did not hide her vulnerability, she led with it.
She had nothing to recommend her to Christ except the demand that he act out of his character.
She did not see her vulnerability as we see it, as a humiliation, as a final wretchedness. Vulnerability was her threshold to Christ. A way for her to demand Christ act out of Mercy that defines his character.
To be in ministry is a vulnerable thing. You want to know for sure people you care about are going to be okay, but you have not been asked by God to know for sure. You want to figure things out for people you care about, but you have not been asked by God to figure things out. You want to make things right for people you care about, but you have not been asked by God to make things right.
We are all so vulnerable. Vulnerable to our own circumstances, vulnerable to our moods, vulnerable to the wrong stories about who we are. About what we are responsible for. And vulnerable, most of all, to our own hardness of heart.
It is a painful, vulnerable thing to do only do what you can.
Why would Christ not remove the excruciating and unbearable? This woman’s and ours? Why would he choose, instead, to lead us through the excruciating and unbearable? Why did Christ choose not to be a way out but a way through?
All through my ministry, all through, there has been a stubborn, insistent, vigilant shadow of worry that has hung over my life in ministry.
It has tried to protect me from my own vulnerability.
But maybe this woman shows, there is no protection from it. Maybe it is what we lead with.
I’ve felt that vigilant shadow of worry, more and more, dissipate over. I’ve learned to ask that stubborn, vigilant part of myself to back away, and it has. But only on one condition.
That I’m able to identify and accept the vulnerability it has been protecting. That I accept life with that vulnerability.
How can we quietly befriend and acknowledge that vulnerability and offer it to Christ?
Vulnerability is often a place where, we think, something must be done. And done by us. Not a place where something has been done for us. Christ’s gracious offering of himself to our helplessness.
How to let it be what it was meant to be? A place where Christ meets us? A place where Christ refuses to deny his character of Mercy.