Bready or Not: A SOAP Bible Study on Matthew 15:21-28

Note: A more detailed analysis of this passage will be included in the Juby Journey book I’m working on. For now, I’m converting preliminary thoughts into the SOAP Bible study below to archive insight and encourage the saints in the short term.

As one dealing with grief, who went through the ringer last year while Juby was alive, I can’t help but resonate with this passage. Like the protagonist, Lys and I can relate to an afflicted daughter and the desperation for her deliverance. Granted, Juby was not demon-possessed but stricken with chronic lung disease. Still, as we cried out for Jesus, hopefully not to the chagrin of others, we discovered a posture far greater than a spiritual bookmark but of a daily exercise with reproducible influence.

Accordingly, without further ado, I’d like to unpack the remarkable faith of the Syrophoenician woman and how her hope can be a blueprint for those seeking restoration.

Scripture: Matthew 15:21-28

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.’ But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she is crying out after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ And he answered, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.


1. Before we can dive into the dialogue, we must first assess the setting. While time and place may seem arbitrary, in this case, they carry notable purpose. With the end in sight, Jesus withdrew with the disciples outside Jewish territory to prepare them for the Cross to come. His days numbered, Jesus realized some final exposures and tune-ups were necessary to groom them for life in ministry without His physical presence. As such, the fact He retreated to the hostile confines of Tyre and Sidon should not be perceived as random as Jesus desired to foreshadow the Gospel going out to all peoples. How amazing it is to know Jesus, even in His last days, never stopped breaking down barriers through radical love.

2. Fast-forward to the woman’s cameo, it’s interesting to note what she requests right out of the gate. Instead of healing or intervention, she addresses Jesus as ‘Son of David’ and calls for mercy, instantly acknowledging the Master’s identity, authority, and sovereignty in one swoop (v. 22). While intellectual origins are unknown, somehow, someway, she understood who Jesus was much to the surprise of the cohort. Per the importance of this sequence, we’ll break this down as we go.

3. I also find Jesus’ response to be somewhat peculiar: “But he did not answer her a word” (v. 23). This, to me, is a critical point to examine and requires us to broaden out to consider the context. Again, this will be explored in the points below.

4. Starting with the woman’s location and situation, we find her labeled as an unclean outsider despite her Canaanite designation and erroneously judged for her non-Israelite daughter’s condition. In terms of geography and timeline, we aren’t informed of any prior wonders performed in Tyre and Sidon prior to this passage. This adds a curious wrinkle to the story as one must wonder how a woman of this stature and status could recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

5. Going back to Jesus’ response, we find multiple motives. For the disciples citing the woman as a distraction, Jesus addresses their bias prior to answering her cry (v. 24):

“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

The reason behind this is at least twofold: On one hand, Jesus wanted to remind the disciples who He was in light of what He came to do as clearly, a portion of the twelve were still pigeon-holing His kingship. On the other hand, Jesus’ intended His initial silence to be an opportunity for the woman to show patience…and resilience. From ‘have mercy’ to ‘help me’ in consecutive pleas (v. 25), the woman wasn’t just conveying poetic symmetry but reiterating Jesus’ mission. Already she had correctly identified Jesus as the Son of God (a full two chapters prior to Peter’s declaration in 16:16); now, she was begging Jesus to be consistent to her…

…what you do to Israel, please, Lord, do to me and my household as well.

6. In addition to the woman’s opening inquiry, I’m captivated by her posture. Even if she just said, ‘Son of David, please help me. My daughter is possessed’, Jesus would have recognized the woman’s understanding of His lordship through her positioning. While the woman’s kneel wasn’t evident during her first appeal, the fact Jesus gave the woman more time, in part, to let her go deeper in referencing Him was not part of instinctual circumstance. Rather, it was an intentional maneuver for her to anchor her surrender and confirm her awareness in front of a freshly humbled core of disciples.

7. The exchange between Jesus and the woman immediately following is arguably one of the most profound moments during His ministry. Up to this point, Jesus hasn’t said a word. Now ready, we again see the silence’s effect per His decision to test the depth and sincerity of her invitation. With the woman’s hopelessness on a timer, He uses the woman’s location and sense of identity as a means to assess her heart:

“It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (v. 26)

Here, Jesus elects to use ‘dog’ knowing the term was derogatory as a Gentile reference. To be a dog in Israel was to be regarded as a dirty, street scavenger; however, Jesus doesn’t associate the term to her poverty as much as her perceived sense of spiritual destitution. At the time, the rift between Jew and Gentile (between ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’) was still strong but, in a preview, we find a woman authenticating her hope while also foreshadowing the expiration of Gentile believers’ spiritual homelessness.

In the woman’s reply, “Yes, Lord; but even the pet dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their [young] masters’ table” (v. 27), we not only find confidence beyond imminent healing but in the salvation of her people. While the woman’s yieldedness was key as a demonstration of submission, Jesus knew this wasn’t simply a self-centered strategy to obtain instant results.

8. Finally, per the prior point, the significance of ‘crumb’ cannot be understated. For a “lost sheep of Israel” (v. 24) to be so hungry for Jesus that even a mere morsel would do tells us the woman saw her situation as secondary to the power and presence of God. In essence, she accepts the status of a family’s dog knowing just a crumb of Jesus would be powerful enough to defeat the demon oppressing her daughter. No question, the woman had her priorities and perspectives set straight, almost as if she had anticipated the moment in advance.


Despite its short duration, the passage carries immense application and universal relatability potential. Regardless of our situations, we can all identify and empathize with the Syrophoenician woman if not at least through her adamant clinging to hope in a bleak situation. Even when we’re struggling with our identity, a love deficit, and/or challenges outside our control, even when we feel stuck in dark place, we can approach God in humility with thanksgiving acknowledging who He is and what He can do.

For some of you, you may have a loved one, a son or daughter, burdened by a disease or satanic assignment. You may feel the target on your back and paralyzed to shake it off. If this is you, don’t work to faith and prayer; start with faith and prayer. To the Lord of grace, ask for mercy and request His appointed portion of providence. If you’re lost, don’t deny the position but receive yourself as one worth saving. Like the woman, you may be deeply conscious of the misery of the soul, but this doesn’t disqualify you from bread of life crumbs.

For others, you may not have a grim circumstance on the board, but you may be thirsty to anticipate the proximity and power of God. While we don’t know exactly how the woman learned of Jesus before His arrival, we know she put herself in position to receive of Him following His arrival. Like her, you don’t have to limit your bended knee to the moment. Rather you can extend it as a general posture wherever you go. Ask yourself, ‘Do I want more of Jesus? Do I want a fresh touch of Him today?’ If the answer is ‘yes’, know whatever He decides to give is more than enough even if what He offers is partly an invitation to go deeper.

Either way, dare to believe good things will happen when you seek Jesus and ask of God according to His will.


Heavenly Father, we come before you today as we are. Heavy laden with our fears, anxieties, and insecurities, we lay them down in anticipation of what you’re going to do. We may feel “dogged” by life, by consequences of past decisions, by unforeseen trials and happenstances. But like Mary, we choose you ahead of any other commitment and priority in our life right now. We thank you for going before us but recognize your faithfulness before us now. For those who are hungry for you, we ask you provide something afresh to they may taste and see a new facet of your goodness. For those who don’t realize they’re hungry, guide and position them to discover the bread of life you carry. Stir in all of us an awakened passion to the wonder of you and help us to see even what we can’t control as opportunities for sharpening, pruning, and maturing. Whether or not we’re personally afflicted, we pray you prepare our hearts for inevitable testings to come and remember those who are going through tragedy, who are journeying through grief. Tend their hearts and make us sensitive to our part in nourishing them just as you are intentional in nourishing us. Whatever piece you intend to give, we receive it with praise on our lips and gratitude in our hearts. In Jesus’ precious and holy name…

Graphic creds: EnduringWord; Mr. Muncle

Resolution Solution: A Three-Step Guide to Aiming High (Intro)

A quick word on “resolutions“…

I know many prefer to stiff-arm the term, roll their eyes at its utterance, and scoff the cliches our culture has attributed.

Yet, through the proper lens, I contend resolutions defined as the process of praying into goals and taking inventory of important decisions are not just a healthy necessity but a holy expression of faith. Granted, the ability to adjust our behavior comes down to intent, or as I like to view it, the epicenter of our ‘why’ which varies from person to person.

Still, in theory, we’re unified within the construct of ‘why’ given it includes our motives/hopes and drives our emotional processing as we observe our journey to change.

The problem for many is: While their intent is perfectly good, and by proxy, valid, it’s often not pure assuming it stems from self-fulfillment and is dependent on self-effort.

Again, our hearts may be anchored to sound intent and for the right reasons from what we can tell; however, if we’re not screening them in advance or worse, belittling them due to past disappointments and present cynicisms, the leaps we’re dying to take may be compromised before they’re even attempted.

Which brings me to my point in writing this…

As you toast your growth and plans for a new year, don’t forget to commit them first.

Consider the “Proverb-ial” yellow-brick road on the subject. In three chapters, the Psalmist emphasizes resolutions as goal surrenderance in the context of allowing God to establish three things:

  1. Your plans (Proverbs 16:3)
  2. Your steps (Proverbs 16:9)
  3. His purposes (Proverbs 19:21)

Like the chronology, the order is significant, one which will be unpacked in the coming months.

As for now, as you begin to assign motive to awareness dare to dream with God not only at the center…but as the originator of every determination He’s planted inside you.

Remember every strength, weakness, and desire to ‘level up’ has been foreknown since eternity – a validation to the day’s excitement and why I personally get giddy as more people start to open their aspiration doors a little bit wider.

As long as we’re on the same page in believing God by His Spirit must bridge the divide before, during, and after our resolutions, the transformation we corporately crave will begin to realize.

Hence, why maturation quests are great but are only effective to the extent we let the Alpha and Omega establish our plans/steps and open our eyes to His purposes along the way.

More on this topic in the weeks to come. For now, as always,


Graphic creds: American Greetings

There & Back Again: The Gift and Call of Suffering

So lately, I’ve been building my library, adding books to shelves in a quest to answer a timeless question:

Why do we suffer?

Yet, as I absorb Daniel Carrington and Philip Yancey, I’m curious if we should reconsider the inquiry as, ‘How should we suffer?’

For if suffering is a kingdom, a divine call, and the resilience guide to discovering God, then surely the way we endure merits discussion.

Perhaps you’re like me looking to mature through past and present challenges and hoping to think outward as opposed to inward. Either way, as we near the home stretch of 2022, these are the musings of yours truly…the emotional evolution of one still processing the passing of his youngest.

Sweet Jubilee…oh, how I miss you.

Granted, much has started to calibrate since my last post. The returns to certain norms are imminent. There have even been times I’ve wondered why I’m not more depressed than I am.

But at the core of it all, Lys and I feel like Merry, Pippin, Sam, and Frodo returning to the shire from Mordor. Remember what Frodo said when he returned to Bag End in ‘Return of the King‘?

How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on…when in your heart you begin to understand…there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend…some hurts that go too deep… that have taken hold.”

To me, this begs the question: What then can ‘untake’ that hold? How then should the heart resound, if not through soundless bites that in hardship can be the most beautiful expression of vulnerability?

Answers aside, the line resonates, a heart prick that has compelled me to relish the truth:

The author and perfector of my faith is the same author and perfector of my pain who from the beginning of time ordained it as a means for me to choose Him!

Like any day I’m alive, I’m taking hold of it as one made in His image. Like any hour I’m awake, I’m taking hold of it to press into His likeness. Just because my heart is healing, doesn’t mean I can’t partake in divine remedy, the sweetness of God’s Immanuel presence and the power of His strength piercing the darkness.

When I’m tempted to retreat, I remember the out I have to retreat into Jesus. And from there, I springboard into the dichotomy between the questions above…that the difference between “Why do we suffer” and “How should we suffer”, in purest form, is the asker of the latter knowing he is loved by God and is willing to trust in His purposes. That it is unfathomable love wrapped in mystery orchestrating the narrative of triumph and perspective rising from the depths.

Like Lys and I of late, you may feel like Frodo, called into adventures beyond your understanding, wishing the rings of adversity, be it disappointment or grief, hadn’t come to you. Yet, in those Moria moments, remember that’s when the Spirit finds and refreshes us as Gandalf did to Frodo:

So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Sure, the year of Jubilee may be over but as her name implies, the happy ever afters are only beginning. Accordingly, we celebrate our precious daughter Hebrews 12:1 style, knowing she’s not only part of a great cloud of witnesses but also co-inspiration stirring us to lay aside the weight of anguish clinging closely…

…her voice an echo to the Master urging us to run our race with endurance.

As for you, my friends, whatever your mission is, know to be overwhelmed is only human and often the evidence of doing something right. Why not then fuse some Hebrews 12:1-2 along with some Romans 8:28 and Galatians 6:9 into the questions you’re asking? Why not faint not…knowing God works all things, including our sufferings, for good and makes things new as words trustworthy and true (Revelation 21:5)? You don’t have to bear the weight of deciphering your circumstances. Rather, you can bear each other’s burdens delighting in the fact God has you going somewhere. Even if loss is incurred along the way, remember nothing can separate you from God’s love and the victory He has in store for you.

At the very least, take it from Jubilee. Her life was a gift but even more so her legacy. What keeps her Spirit alive is the same Spirit who in whispers:

  1. Reminds us He’s there because He’s been there and…
  2. Ignites us to see how discovering God through perseverance as the best way to journey through suffering.

In closing, I return to Yancey: “As we rely on God and trust His Spirit to mold us in His image, true hope takes shape within us, ‘a hope that does not disappoint.’ We can literally become better persons because of suffering. Pain, however meaningless it may seem at the time, can be transformed. Where is God when it hurts? He is in us—not in the things that hurt—helping to transform bad into good. We can safely say that God can bring good out of evil; we cannot say that God brings about the evil in hopes of producing good.


Cover photo creds:

Power in the Mud (Part 1): Why Jesus Used His Spit to Heal

So recently, I’ve been investigating some of the more creative and intense miracles of Jesus during His ministry.

Among my questions: What is the full significance of the garment at Gennesaret? Why were those at Gadarenes intimidated by Jesus? And whenever a specific number is mentioned, is there a reason for it? Or is it just arbitrary in some cases?

But perhaps the most pressing of late is the most random:

Why did Jesus use saliva in some of his healings?

While my research is ongoing, what I can say for now is while the Spirit of God as demonstrated through the spittle of His Son seems like a bizarre theme, the concept is not so far-fetched.

You see, back in the day, the medical community, particularly in Judea, believed strongly in the curing power of saliva. While practicing with spittle seems disgusting by our standards, as BC became AD, a patient would want a physician’s spit to be part of the prescription. Pretty crazy, right?

Accordingly, Jesus healing a deaf man by a wet touch to the tongue (Mark 7:33) and two blind men with a similar approach to the eyes (Mark 8:23, John 9:6), should not surprise us. Granted, Jesus could have gone against conventional wisdom and treatments in ‘out of leftfield’ fashion.

But that’s not who Jesus is or what He came to do. Rather than discredit welcomed practices (by Jewish and Roman cultures, no doubt), Jesus operated within an expected vein so He could communicate His intention to heal before actually doing so.

And while there’s plenty of symbolism involving the mud and washing of eyes, as I revisit these stories with one in the NICU, I’m encouraged by the Prince of Peace channeling a relatable ‘big picture’ into these miraculous moments.

For instance, while Jesus knew there was power in His Word, He also knew there was healing power in His saliva intended to impart life and restoration. With divine DNA flowing with His humanity, we can better understand such an operational dichotomy:

Just as there was future power in His blood, so was there present power in the mud…

…revealing His power to heal the afflicted and open their eyes in more ways than one.

Put another way, Christ’s lifeblood was His lifesource. To the extent He yielded and relied on God, to that extent His wonder-working power manifested through grace, understanding, even medical empathy. This makes sense especially when we take a birds-eye view of Christ’s creative healings.

For Jesus so loved whom He took compassion on, not only did He seek to model love by His power but also care by His intent.

While I will aim to unpack this further in my next post, for now, I live this in real-life in real-time. Given the amount of preemies I pass in the halls these days, I’m stirred by the fact Jesus never repeated the same healing miracle twice. And as Lys & I enter these dogs days at Vandy, I’m reminded how, like Jesus, we can be dependent upon a higher power pulsating through us…reviving our hearts again.

How sweet it is to know our Savior is an expert at making something out of nothing and meeting our spiritual need with a physical manifestation? After all, to heal is to not only restore what once was lost but to reclaim by faith God’s original design for our life.


Jubilee (“Juby”) Fry after her laser eye surgery on 1/27/22.

Miracle in the Making: The Jubilee Journey (Part 6)

It’s a chilling 72 degrees as I type this.

Still rattling from another week of dodging arrows, taking them in the back in some cases.

I’m done with this. I’m so fed up and yet starving at the same time. Forget why; I just want to know when.

When will things get better? When will things start to turn around?

I look at Juby and I delight in her progress. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the journey…the literal baby steps one must take during these intense stretches.

But when it’s Monday morning and you’ve been out of home for three months. When it’s a brand new day and your only source of sanctuary betrays you, I’m sorry, I just can’t even…

…not anymore.

Don’t get me wrong; I haven’t given up or anything. Contrarily, I sometimes wonder if not knowing how to not believe is part of what’s working.

Yet, as I continue to wrestle and keep my head above the water, I discover new depths to what faith is like at the end of its rope…

…and it is gloriously terrifying. A place you relish and long to relinquish at the same time.

Like many paradoxes, the dichotomy is confusing. After all, vertical reliance is supposed to be uncomfortable – an achy burn as opposed to a contagious high.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: I trust God has something in store for Lys & I once this season blows over. It’s just getting harder to move, to leave the house, to function really. Even though we’re hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, even though we’re perplexed on multiple fronts, but not [yet in] despair, the temptation to think otherwise entices me.

How can the life of Jesus fully manifest when all I can do is stand? How can His glory be revealed when I’m this lost searching for a horizon to light my way?

Sure, I can stiff-arm fear all day, but at day’s end, I just want to know where I am headed.

I’m sure I’m not the only one out there wondering this right now.

Disoriented and fatigued, my charge tonight is simple…

If you find yourself at the end of your rope, rejoice in the stillness and tie a knot.

You may feel like you’re trembling on a precipice, but where courage lacks is also where much is given. In time, you will be able to strain forward to what lies ahead. For now, embrace the opportunity to receive as you persevere, let steadfastness have its full effect, and hold fast the confession of hope without wavering.

Even when you step out of your car and a freak gear glitch causes it to launch into a neighbor’s yard before you somehow, someway stop it from crashing into their house, count it all joy. Tally up His goodness and scale your conflicts accordingly.

Take it from one in the trenches with you. Your life isn’t as broken as you think. And even if it is, there’s not a solve or repair unbeknownst to God.

Why not trust the handiness of His hands as you trade in your sorrows?

Just sayin’…


Cover photos creds: Word Slingers