In Mark 7, we read the story of Jesus healing the deaf and mute man. In verse 33, it says Jesus took the man aside and put His fingers into the man’s ears. Then He spit and touched the man’s tongue. After this, Jesus looked up to heaven and He says, “Ephphatha” which means open. But before the word was spoken, after the touching of the tongue, Jesus looked up to heaven and sighed.
Often we find ourselves overwhelmed, tired, in need of a break, etc. and we let out a sigh. Sometimes we remember something difficult or we find ourselves in a tough situation and we sigh. Sometimes we mess up and let out a sigh. Often before I head up front to preach, I sigh. I sigh and pray for my words to be His Word. I sigh and ask that all of the world, all of the day’s baggage, all of the “everything that is not of God” is booted far away.
Jesus sighed. We read of Him sighing in Mark 8:12, a deep groan because the Pharisees wanted a sign. The word used is “anastenaxas.” In Mark 7, the word used is different. The word is “stenazó” and it is a sigh expressing grief, anger, or desire. It can be intensely pleasant or anguishing. As we look at the steps of this healing, we can consider the ears and eyes—both created by God Himself. Jesus, the Son of God, stood before this sinner in need of restoration, sighed at the state of the man, looked up to heaven, the source of every good thing, where He rules and reigns, and said, “Be open.” Imagine Jesus face to face with you right now, reaching out, sighing and saying, “Be healed my child.” There is no need for brokenness, no need for separation. Allow Him to heal you. Allow Him to open your ears. Allow Him to loosen your tongue.
“And looking up to heaven, He sighed and said to Him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’” – Mark 7:34
King Saul was told to destroy the Amalekites; he was given a command from the Lord. He disobeyed that command and God said, “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the LORD all that night (1 Samuel 15:11-12 NIV).
Samuel was greatly disturbed when the Israelites wanted to have a king over them instead of recognizing God as their King. He was upset again when the anointed king would not follow the command of the Lord. He mourned. He went to Ramah and continued to grieve. God asked Samuel how long he would mourn—because there was still more to be done. God was to have him anoint a new king, King David.
There are moments in life when we get stuck in a hole, whether it be the sinking sand of failure or frustration or mourning or comfort (yes comfort), we don’t want to move. We embrace where we are at when God wants us to move forward. God told Samuel to fill up his horn—to get prepared and press onward and accomplish the task at hand. There’s more to be done my friend. Let us keep on keeping on.
“The LORD said to Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.’” 1 Samuel 16:1 [NIV]
Every day I am in pain but some days are worse than others. Today was a really high pain day because there was an incident that occurred when I was walking the dogs. A loose dog came after Max and Marci. My daughter held Marci and continued onward but this loose dog kept after Max and he wasn’t too keen on this new acquaintance. Somehow I got my hand twisted inside his harness and the more movement from Max meant my hand was being squeezed until it could not be squeezed anymore. Finally someone nearby made a grab for the loose dog and my hand was free. It was a great feeling to have my hand free—but the pain has been lingering ever since. That was my bad hand already; I’m not sure what to call it now.
On days like these, days when the pain brings tears to my eyes, I cling to God’s Word. You can page through your Bible and read about people suffering, about people in pain, about people in anguish. This morning I turned to Psalm 73. But as you page through God’s Word, you also read about His promises. Psalm 91 says “’If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,’ says God, ‘I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!’” (v.14-16 MSG)
I am very blessed. Each day, I am grateful for another day—another opportunity to serve. I know there’s a purpose. I know He has a great plan. I know that one day I won’t have to wear braces on my knees, ankles, or anywhere else. I won’t walk with a limp. Things will be different for me and for you. No more pain. No more tears. No more struggles. Think about the party God is going to throw. Yes, there will be a day—oh what a day!
“Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.”
Psalm 73:25-28 [NASB]
I’ve been having a lot of shoulder pain for the past few months. It started to be very bothersome and interrupt my activities of daily living. Someone who knows a thing or two about shoulders has told me I have a weak shoulder. Yes, a weak shoulder. I never thought it could be possible—that I could have a weak shoulder—as I am always active. The problem is the particular area doesn’t do the work as other muscles and it has become too weak to support itself.
So now I am in a lot of pain and lately I find myself with eyes filled with tears as I try to sleep. I find myself having to do exercises to work out the weak area. This therapy is painful. This therapy can be draining or overwhelming. This therapy is necessary.
As God chips away at us, helping to mold us into we are meant to be, we might feel some pain. Change requires loss. We grieve. We drag our feet. We don’t understand. To move along with God and walk alongside Him doing our part, we find ourselves making adjustments to our lives to make room for Him and that can appear overwhelming. We say things like, “I have to wake up earlier so I can get my morning devotion read or it won’t get done” We find ourselves stepping out in faith in small and big ways. Turning down jobs. Traveling to unfamiliar areas. Changing direction. But just as I need this therapy to strengthen my muscle again, so we need God’s Word, His direction, His prodding. I pray today you allow yourself to be molded by our Maker, rejoicing as you trust His perfect plan. Praise Him. Trust Him. Embrace Him. Dig into His Word—not just here and there, but every day. Take it with you. Write it down. Remember it. Cherish it. Eat it. Speak it. Love it. No one who trust God like this – heart and soul – will ever regret it.
“With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: ‘God has set everything right between him and me!’ Scripture reassures us, ‘No one who trusts God like this – heart and soul – will ever regret it.’” – Romans 10:10-11 [MSG]