Minister's Letter

The end of the tether - August 20, 2017

Dear Friends,

Occasionally I have been known to take a dog for a walk.  And I have noticed that there are different types of dogs.  This has nothing to do with their pedigree or breed.  I can spot a Corgi from an Irish Wolfhound as well as you.  It’s just that there are easy dogs and there are difficult dogs.  I enjoy my walks with the first type;  the walks with the difficult ones are purgatory.  There is one pulling from the front, straining at the leash, desperate to expend every ounce of available energy.  And the other just doesn’t want to be there.  She pulls from behind, tries to turn me round and go home to a quiet lazy life.  And I am torn in two directions.  The saintly hound walking obediently down the street on the other side of the road does nothing for my self-esteem either.  And before long I am at the end of my tether.

As tethers go it’s pretty mild really.  Some people though face serious frustrations every day of their lives which tax their patience, their energy, their sanity and even their faith.  They don’t know what to do.  They really are at the end of their tether.

One of the characters Jesus met was just like that.  She was an outsider, a Gentile woman, and she was beside herself with worry about her daughter.  And what does Jesus do?  First he ignores her.  Then he says he has come to help Jews, not Canaanites.  Finally he insults her with some disparaging words about dogs.  Back to them again!  Well, it may not sound very politically correct, but it was a lot better than sending her away with some empty platitudes.  I suspect Jesus was actually provoking her to lay bare to herself (and his disciples) the extent of her anguish.  In any event she fights back and tells Jesus that even dogs like her eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.

Jesus is amazed by her faith:  Kick me when I am down, but I know you can do something for me!  Her daughter is healed, and to my complete astonishment I appear to have two dogs walking amiably at my side.


Matthew 15: 21-23, 27-28

A Canaanite woman…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…..

‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’

‘Yes it is, Lord,’ she said… And her daughter was healed at that moment.

A prayer

Lord, she might have been at the end of her tether, but she had enough wit to give you a run for your money.  I know a few others at the end of their tether.  Can you bring some healing to them, too?  Now.  Today.  Amen.

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