From The Kitchen Window - Responses
Words by David Hollows
During a media review of 2020, a commentator passed the remark that 2020 had been many things for many people but essentially was ‘a year of sighs’
The Dictionary explains that a sigh is ‘a long deep audible breath expressive of sadness, weariness, longing, relief from tension, cessation of effort, a yearning for’
A sigh is often slow and a long exhalation of breath as a response to an event or another person. We sometimes use a sigh instead of words to express inner turmoil or conflict, sorrow or grief and can be used as a demonstration of defeat as well as pent up frustration.
The media commentator continued to explain that in his opinion 2020 was a year of sighs as a response to the number of deaths worldwide, the huge amount of illness caused not just by the pandemic but including health issues which would normally be treated such as cancer, heart attacks and knee replacements, unemployment, relationship issues, isolation and the unprecedented lockdowns.
Have you ever monitored the number of times you sigh or the ways in which you respond to events and other people?
Are you good at concealing your responses or do you wear heart on your sleeve?
Do you adopt the British approach of the stiff upper lip or are you totally emotional?
Do you recognise that your response may not be appropriate in certain situations, for example, you giggle owing to nervousness?
Are you able to weep with those who weep and laugh with those who laugh?
Are you able to turn the other cheek and how do you respond to those who slight you, intentionally or otherwise?
Do you harbour a grudge or can you let it go?
The biologists tell us that laughter and smiles are good for our mental health as they release certain chemicals in our brains and have a positive effect on us.
So, what makes you laugh or cry, stop you in your tracks, gives you a sense of awe and wonder, makes you sigh?
Photo by Sophie Dale via Unsplash
In the Bible we are provided with the whole range of responses.
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, her response was one of awe and for the shepherds in the fields they were filled with wonder at the sight of the angelic host. Yet, Joseph doubted and needed reassurance from Gabriel. (Luke chapters 1 and 2) When Jesus arrived in Bethany He wept at the tomb of His friend, Lazarus and demonstrated a whole range of responses in the hours before His death; forgiveness for those who crucified Him and the criminal on the cross, reticence before Pilate and concern for His mother and His friends. (Matthew chapters 27 and 28).
Paul’s response to the beatings, stoning episodes and shipwreck was that of determination and resilience to continue in his mission (2 Corinthians chapter 11) whereas for Peter in the denial situation , his response was that of self-preservation (Matthew chapter 26).
A response of outrageous love was demonstrated by the woman who anointed the feet and head of Jesus with expensive perfumed oil (John chapter 11) yet the disciples ran away in defeat in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested (Matthew chapter 26).
Ruth responded to her widowhood with despair (Ruth chapter 1) whereas Esther stepped up to the plate to rescue her people from Hama (Esther chapter 4) Balaam demonstrated a totally wrong response both to the donkey and the angel (Numbers chapter 22) whereas the response of Moses to God in the burning bush incident was totally acceptable (Exodus chapter 3).
So, what about God and His responses?
As we are made in His image and we have considered above some of the responses available to us in our everyday lives as well as in the stories of the Bible, what are we to conclude about our God?
We have already considered the variety of responses demonstrated by Jesus which balance some of the responses we have of God in the Old Testament: the way God responds to Adam and Eve (Genesis chapter 3) the destruction God inflicts on the earth and His response to Noah (Genesis chapter 7) The way God responds to the building of the tower of Babel (Genesis chapter 11) contrasted with His concern for His people in Egypt (Exodus chapter 2) Doubtless you will be able to think of many others.
We have a God of multi-dimensional responses but a God who has our concern at His very heart as He loves us so much.
The Psalmist tells us that God can turn our mourning into dancing (Psalm 30) so, the next time you are tempted to sigh, try praise!
You may find the following hymn useful:
Through all the changing scenes of life (Mission Praise 702)
You may find the following prayer helpful:
For the joy of a fresh sunrise, for the hope each new day brings, for your love which knows no bounds, we praise you, our wonderful God. But even as these words of praise pass our lips, we know that we have not always lived as those who are loved, forgiven and set free by you. We have allowed ourselves to be conditioned by our culture and to be captivated by social norms. Through the healing power of your love, make us whole, to live and love with open hearts, generous spirits and responses which are like yours. We ask this in the name of Jesus,
God bless you
Signing off: your local Lay-worker, David Hollows