Mark 8:11-12 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.”
Wait. Jesus sighed? Like I do when I’m frustrated? When I’m sick of being asked the same thing over and over? He felt that way too? As I read this passage today, I was struck with the humanity of Jesus in the simple act of sighing. I looked up the Greek word for “sighed deeply” here and guess what. It’s the only place in the entire Bible the word (anastenazō – to draw sighs up from the bottom of the breast, to sigh deeply) is used. The only place! Apparently I express frustration through sighing a whole lot more than people in the Bible. If stories are ever written about my life, the phrase “She sighed deeply and said…” will be used constantly.
So, back to Jesus sighing. It’s interesting to me that the only place this is ever recorded as happening is when church people asked Him to give them as sign proving that he was really God’s son. A sign from heaven. I don’t the emotion that caused His sighing. It could have been frustration, annoyance, exasperation or just being sick of people doubting him. Regardless of what caused it, I was struck with the realization that I ask similar questions of God frequently. I don’t doubt that He’s real like the Pharisees did, but sometimes I feel like I’m begging for something tangible to hold on to as a reminder that God still cares. That He’s still paying attention to my little life. I want proof that He hasn’t forgotten about me. It is pretty much the same as what caused Jesus to sigh.
In this instance, and often in life, we’re told “no” by God. Or maybe that’s just me? It’s hard to have prayers answered with a negative. It becomes easy to think that because the Lord isn’t giving us what we want, He doesn’t love us anymore. We did something wrong and He’s punishing us somehow. As much as I may want signs and wonders, belief in God cannot be dependent upon them. Yes, sometimes I feel God speaking to me as clearly as if He was right beside me. Other times His voice is harder to discern. And then there’s the clearly answered “no”. Those times I kind of wish I hadn’t heard Him. It’s much easier for my human brain and heart to trust in God’s unwavering love when all my prayers are being answered with a decisive yes from the Lord. Truly being a Christ follower means trusting in Him even when the answers don’t line up with what I want. Really, especially then. I don’t really like coming to that conclusion, but I know it’s what God was showing me today. (sigh)