On Being Resolute



“In 1952, young Florence Chadwick stepped into the Pacific, just off Catalina Island, determined to swim to the mainland of California. She’d already been the first woman to swim the English Channel—both ways. The weather was foggy and chilly; she could hardly see the boats accompanying her. Still, she swam for 15 hours. When she begged to be taken out of the water, her mother, who was in a boat alongside, told her she was close and that she could make it. Finally, physically and emotionally exhausted, she stopped swimming and was pulled out. It wasn’t until she was on the boat that she discovered that the shore was less than half a mile away. At a news conference the next day she said, “All I could see was the fog…I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”


All I could see was the fog... I think if I could have seen the shore I would have made it." — Florence Chadwick

In Mark 7, we find Jesus walking all the way from where He was in the Galilee toward Tyre and Sidon, which was Gentile territory, in what we know today as Lebanon. This was a long distance by foot, 85 miles one way. By the time this chapter is over, Jesus would have walked a total of over 250 miles on foot. That’s a pretty long journey. He goes there and seemingly all that happens is a Syrophoenician woman, a Gentile, a woman who wasn’t part of the commonwealth of Israel, whose daughter was demon possessed comes to Jesus and pesters Him to cast out the demon from her daughter. And the Lord completely disregards her request. Instead, He says to her that it is not good to throw the children’s bread to the dogs. Ouch. The woman is unperturbed by this. She has something called the gift of “thick skin”. Jesus just called her a dog. So, she replies, ‘Yes, but even the little dogs under the tables eat the children’s crumbs.’ The Lord says, ‘For this saying, (which really reflected her tenacity and her persistence) the demon has gone out of your daughter.’ The next thing we know is - Jesus departs from Tyre and Sidon and heads back to the Decapolis, which I like to emphasize again, was a very long journey by foot. End of assignment!


So, what was that all about? Why did our Lord take that long and arduous route to go to Tyre? Were there other things that He did there? I don’t know. We are not told. But all we know is, the Lord does not do random. So obviously, this woman was the assignment. What was the purpose of the detour? I think the key is to understand what or whom this woman represents. Here’s how I see this story- I think she represents everyone in this room who has fallen into some kind of pit, everyone who has felt they have somehow missed the mark and have been disqualified, everyone who feels that they are estranged from Christ because they fell short, or anyone else who feels that he or she has done things that are unworthy of my Master, and we feel cut off from the commonwealth of Israel. We feel we have no right to approach Him. Hear me please. The Lord deliberately took a long and arduous detour to have this encounter with this woman as a way of saying once and for all, to all of us that He cares for you. No matter what you have done, the Lord will make that arduous journey for one of you, to prove His love for you. That even when we feel the resistance of the Lord the way the Syrophoenician woman must have felt, that should not stop us from pressing in. And I think this is what the Lord really loves. He loves it when we keep coming to him, over and over again, even when it seems He is not responding, or worse, when he seems to be pushing us away. But we keep on coming to Him and we don’t stop. And it is this persistence that will always be the one thing that will pay off.


Don’t quit just because things get tough. Don’t give up just because you have setbacks. Keep pressing on.

That’s the key in this whole story: it is to do what this woman did. This Syrophoenician woman knew she was not part of Israel. Yes, she knew she did not qualify. Yes, she knew she had no right to come to Jesus and to ask what she did. And when she did come, there was this insult. But she was not perturbed by the insult. She kept on pressing in and pressing on. And oftentimes in our walk with God, we have got to learn sometimes just to be thick-skinned.


If you ever feel like giving up, just remember that the last thing to grow on a fruit tree is the fruit. You cannot lose if you do not quit. Don’t quit just because things get tough. Don’t give up just because you have setbacks. Keep pressing on.


Rick Joyner once said something profound. He said, “Those who have experienced repeated mistakes and failures, yet do not quit, will not only be some of the strongest possible leaders, but also the wisest.” I find this quite fascinating. “God uses people who fail because there aren’t any other kind around,” said John Maxwell. There are blessings of the Kingdom that are only yielded to the violence of the vehement soul. The Kingdom of God suffers violence. It is better rendered - the Kingdom of God allows for violence. There are some things in life that cannot be acquired except when we press violently for them.


But don’t stop pressing in and pursuing God because something will break, and you will obtain the greatest miracle in your life.

I remember when I reported for work for the first time in my life. I had just graduated from the university, got a job, and on the first day on the job, my boss called me into his office. He said I have just one thing to say to you. This was my first lesson in the secular. He said to me, “Yang, you have got to learn to be thick- skinned and you will be fine.” End of lesson! I took his advice and after all these years, I think I developed pretty thick skin. To have survived full-time ministry for 30 years, you have to be a little thick-skinned. I cannot afford to be the sort of person who gets offended easily. My work is about people and some people aren’t always the most kind to you. Sometimes, you might feel that it is the Lord who seemingly offends you. You walk with the Lord long enough and you will know that sometimes you feel His love, His warmth and His acceptance, but there are other times when you feel His distance, His displeasure and His apparent sense of coldness. It is not always hunky dory. David obviously felt this. Just read the psalms. Over and over again, David cried out, “I wait for you to be kind to me.” He waited and waited and pursued God and never gave up hope. He didn’t stop and walk away. He didn’t get offended just because he felt the Lord distancing Himself. And the Lord tested David on this. You know that for something like two years, God sort of distanced himself from David after the Bathsheba episode. Abraham experienced it. After he went into Hagar and bore Ishmael, God seemed silent for the next 13 years. If you have a friend who seems to deliberately push you away for a long period and doesn’t talk to you, what would you do? Abraham never wavered in his faith. He never stopped believing. And at the end of 13 long and silent years, God came to Abraham with the promise that he would have a son in his old age through Sarah, his wife who was barren and almost dead. Abraham did not give up hope. All the great saints through the ages have gone through what they called the dark night of the soul. But they kept pressing in and did what was necessary. Keep pressing on. Confess your sins. Acknowledge your wrongdoing. Repent and forsake your sin. But don’t stop pressing in and pursuing God because something will break, and you will obtain the greatest miracle in your life. This Syrophoenician Woman was no different. After seemingly being insulted by the Lord, she said, “No, I am going to keep humbling myself till I get through”, and her persistence is what got her through. I end with Winston Churchill’s famous speech he made at Harrow School in 1941, where for 20 minutes, all he said was “Never ever, ever, ever give up. Never give up.” He once said, “The pessimist sees the problem in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every problem.” Some of you have faced terrible situations simply because you did what you thought God had told you to do, only to end up in a crisis. Or perhaps, you have gotten into a difficult situation all because you thought God was leading you into something that turned out to be something else. But please hear me - if you won’t give up, if you will keep on praying, God is going to lead you into victory. It is not over. Never give up. Be resolute. Be unwavering. If you don’t quit, you can’t lose.



In Mark 7, we find Jesus walking all the way from where He was in the Galilee toward Tyre and Sidon, which was Gentile territory, in what we know today as Lebanon. This was a long distance by foot, 85 miles one way. By the time this chapter is over, Jesus would have walked a total of over 250 miles on foot. That’s a pretty long journey. He goes there and seemingly all that happens is a Syrophoenician woman, a Gentile, a woman who wasn’t part of the commonwealth of Israel, whose daughter was demon possessed comes to Jesus and pesters Him to cast out the demon from her daughter. And the Lord completely disregards her request. Instead, He says to her that it is not good to throw the children’s bread to the dogs. Ouch. The woman is unperturbed by this. She has something called the gift of “thick skin”. Jesus just called her a dog. So, she replies, ‘Yes, but even the little dogs under the tables eat the children’s crumbs.’ The Lord says, ‘For this saying, (which really reflected her tenacity and her persistence) the demon has gone out of your daughter.’ The next thing we know is - Jesus departs from Tyre and Sidon and heads back to the Decapolis, which I like to emphasize again, was a very long journey by foot. End of assignment!


He loves it when we keep coming to him, over and over again, even when it seems He is not responding, or worse, when he seems to be pushing us away.

So, what was that all about? Why did our Lord take that long and arduous route to go to Tyre? Were there other things that He did there? I don’t know. We are not told. But all we know is, the Lord does not do random. So obviously, this woman was the assignment. What was the purpose of the detour? I think the key is to understand what or whom this woman represents. Here’s how I see this story—I think she represents everyone in this room who has fallen into some kind of pit, everyone who has felt they have somehow missed the mark and have been disqualified, everyone who feels that they are estranged from Christ because they fell short, or anyone else who feels that he or she has done things that are unworthy of my Master, and we feel cut off from the commonwealth of Israel. We feel we have no right to approach Him. Hear me please. The Lord deliberately took a long and arduous detour to have this encounter with this woman as a way of saying once and for all, to all of us that He cares for you. No matter what you have done, the Lord will make that arduous journey for one of you, to prove His love for you. That even when we feel the resistance of the Lord the way the Syrophoenician woman must have felt, that should not stop us from pressing in. And I think this is what the Lord really loves. He loves it when we keep coming to him, over and over again, even when it seems He is not responding, or worse, when he seems to be pushing us away. But we keep on coming to Him and we don’t stop. And it is this persistence that will always be the one thing that will pay off.


That’s the key in this whole story: it is to do what this woman did. This Syrophoenician woman knew she was not part of Israel. Yes, she knew she did not qualify. Yes, she knew she had no right to come to Jesus and to ask what she did. And when she did come, there was this insult. But she was not perturbed by the insult. She kept on pressing in and pressing on. And oftentimes in our walk with God, we have got to learn sometimes just to be thick-skinned.


If you ever feel like giving up, just remember that the last thing to grow on a fruit tree is the fruit. You cannot lose if you do not quit. Don’t quit just because things get tough. Don’t give up just because you have setbacks. Keep pressing on.


Rick Joyner once said something profound. He said, “Those who have experienced repeated mistakes and failures, yet do not quit, will not only be some of the strongest possible leaders, but also the wisest.” I find this quite fascinating. “God uses people who fail because there aren’t any other kind around,” said John Maxwell. There are blessings of the Kingdom that are only yielded to the violence of the vehement soul. The Kingdom of God suffers violence. It is better rendered - the Kingdom of God allows for violence. There are some things in life that cannot be acquired except when we press violently for them.


I remember when I reported for work for the first time in my life. I had just graduated from the university, got a job, and on the first day on the job, my boss called me into his office. He said I have just one thing to say to you. This was my first lesson in the secular. He said to me, “Yang, you have got to learn to be thick-skinned and you will be fine.” End of lesson! I took his advice and after all these years, I think I developed pretty thick skin. To have survived full-time ministry for 30 years, you have to be a little thick-skinned. I cannot afford to be the sort of person who gets offended easily. My work is about people and some people aren’t always the most kind to you. Sometimes, you might feel that it is the Lord who seemingly offends you. You walk with the Lord long enough and you will know that sometimes you feel His love, His warmth and His acceptance, but there are other times when you feel His distance, His displeasure and His apparent sense of coldness. It is not always hunky dory. David obviously felt this. Just read the psalms. Over and over again, David cried out, “I wait for you to be kind to me.” He waited and waited and pursued God and never gave up hope. He didn’t stop and walk away. He didn’t get offended just because he felt the Lord distancing Himself. And the Lord tested David on this. You know that for something like two years, God sort of distanced himself from David after the Bathsheba episode.


The pessimist sees the problem in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every problem.

Abraham experienced it. After he went into Hagar and bore Ishmael, God seemed silent for the next 13 years. If you have a friend who seems to deliberately push you away for a long period and doesn’t talk to you, what would you do? Abraham never wavered in his faith. He never stopped believing. And at the end of 13 long and silent years, God came to Abraham with the promise that he would have a son in his old age through Sarah, his wife who was barren and almost dead. Abraham did not give up hope. All the great saints through the ages have gone through what they called the dark night of the soul. But they kept pressing in and did what was necessary. Keep pressing on. Confess your sins. Acknowledge your wrongdoing. Repent and forsake your sin. But don’t stop pressing in and pursuing God because something will break, and you will obtain the greatest miracle in your life.


This Syrophoenician Woman was no different. After seemingly being insulted by the Lord, she said, “No, I am going to keep humbling myself till I get through”, and her persistence is what got her through.

I end with Winston Churchill’s famous speech he made at Harrow School in 1941, where for 20 minutes, all he said was “Never ever, ever, ever give up. Never give up.” He once said, “The pessimist sees the problem in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every problem.” Some of you have faced terrible situations simply because you did what you thought God had told you to do, only to end up in a crisis. Or perhaps, you have gotten into a difficult situation all because you thought God was leading you into something that turned out to be something else. But please hear me - if you won’t give up, if you will keep on praying, God is going to lead you into victory. It is not over. Never give up. Be resolute. Be unwavering. If you don’t quit, you can’t lose.



Written by Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong


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