In one of his parables Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is like finding a surprising treasure hidden in a field (Matthew 13). Faith is often like that surprising treasure for us. It shows up in surprising places. Sometimes when we least expect it, when we felt lost or alone, a kind or unexpected word of encouragement or comfort becomes a sign of God's presence or care. And faith is born or renewed and we grasp it and hold on to it like a precious treasure.
In this gospel story faith shows up in surprising places for Jesus. The disciples—and even Jesus—seem not to know quite what to make of it. The woman and her persistence are out of place and out of character. But she will not let go. She continues to hold on for dear life, her own, but more importantly, the life of her daughter. And faith is born. Jesus calls it "great faith"—surprisingly this is the only place in the New Testament that faith is ever described as "great."
This story invites us to hear at least two things: to be expectant and ready for faith to show up in surprising places, and to be persistent in the hope and confidence that such faith will be born anew in us in the response of our Lord who stands ready to hear our pleas for mercy.
God of mercy and hope, help us to see the signs of faith around us, in surprising people and places. In our times of need, lead us in faith to ask for mercy, and to trust in your promise to answer our prayers. Amen.