A few mornings ago, during my devotion, I read the 7th chapter of Mark in its entirety. It’s loaded with many instances that require their own exegesis. As I neared the end of the chapter, we find people bringing a person who could neither hear or barely talk to Jesus to be healed. I was particularly struck by Mark 7:34, where I learned of Jesus taking a deep sigh. I couldn’t believe it! Growing up as child, deep sighing was discouraged. Or rather, deep sighing could result in discouragement for a particular, lower portion of one’s body. In other words, deep sighing was not good for my health. It was considered as being disrespectful, or demonstrating disagreement with what I was instructed to do. So, if one was bad enough to do it, one needed to make certain it was nowhere within the radius of the wrath of Altoria’s ears, which seemingly were able to detect activity for miles.
Just as it is custom, I instituted said practice of the denial of deep sighing when I became a parent. The now post collegiate wasn’t allowed nor encouraged to demonstrate her frustration with my decision making by expressing a blowing exercise out of her mouth. It wasn’t until likely that she got out from under my home, as I did with my mother, that the comfortability of deep sighing became readily available as an option when entangled with circumstances that were disappointingly disgusting. She in turn instructed the practice and now, we have a dog that participates in the practice of deep sighing when her begging for table food is refused. Crazy right?!
Most recently a series of activities presenting themselves as out of my control, ushered in a series of deep sighing on my behalf. I found myself doing it at work; in particularly frustrating meetings, while in traffic when other drivers seem to only be concerned with their desire to reach their destination; in a conversation with the post collegiate about her desire for more dynamic employment; and yes, dare I even say, within ministry as another member of the congregation to which I am a member invited me to a lengthy text message exchange, by which I was weak enough to comply.
Earlier this week when I read the 7th chapter of Mark and learned of Jesus’ deep sigh practice, I was relieved! I was affirmed! I immediately engaged in the desired state of to “be like Jesus!” I laughed about it at work with a colleague. In fact, we developed a practice of inserting the statement of “deep sigh” into our conversation as we discuss an issue or event that is problematic. It as if I was granted the license and permission from Jesus himself, that my mother never allowed! What a liberating feeling! I attempted to show the scripture to others in my work space, but I could only find “Jesus let out a sigh,” on every version on the internet. A sigh is cool, but a deep sigh is even more powerful than the ordinary. The Holy Spirit finally took me out of my misery and reminded me that I originally read the scripture on my phone. My Bible app has six versions by which to read scripture. On the fifth attempt, I found the NIV of Mark 7:33-34, which reads, “After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means Be opened!). There it was! The deep sigh of Jesus! In my excitement, I quietly heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “Read it again!” Suddenly, I received an entirely new revelation. Here it is…
We don’t have the capacity to know exactly why Jesus sighed deeply. Perhaps it was because he was tired. Read the entire chapter of Mark 7 to understand the extent to which he was engaged in the ministry. At the end of the chapter it speaks of Jesus’ request to people that he healed to keep it to themselves, but the more miracles he performed, the more the people spoke. As such, he was followed everywhere he went, which likely would require a need in his physical existence to rest. I sigh as well when I’m tired. Jesus could have also sighed deeply as a result of feeling sorrowful for the person who he was positioned to heal, considering how the person ended in the state where he found him. I share that sentiment as well, when I see people that are homeless or walking around demonstrating the characteristics of someone with mental illness. My heart seems to come through my chest at an intersection when someone is holding a sign with words about their condition. I give and I wonder how in the world can a country with the resources that the USA have that people are living on the street. *Insert deep sigh* But more than the deep sigh that Jesus gave, he looked up to heaven. Wait a minute. The Holy Spirit said, “Yes. And so must you.”
Alright. Here’e my takeaway. I have permission to sigh, even deep sigh. So there Mommy! Sighing is just breathing, and practices in meditation and stress release and stretching encourage it. Yet, without looking to heaven, which is the representation of looking unto God, I’m nothing but a walking ball of hot air. My spiritual deep sighing must always rest in the hands of Jesus, placing my trust and hope and faith in his ability to work out whatever is prompting me in the moment to deep sigh. Perhaps since the deep sigh was expressed after looking to heaven, it represented the beauty of experiencing relief once we give our cares to the Lord (1 Peter 5:7). Only then may we find and experience rest, assurance, burden less living! So go ahead and sigh on, as long as you make certain that you are giving whatever is bringing about the action to the most High God.