I have a little exercise for you. Take a deep breath. Now, close your lips lightly and exhale. What happened? You just sighed!
One evening in the midst of our unexpected Life Detour, I unknowingly let out a pretty big sigh. My husband asked if I was okay. Not knowing what he meant, I responded, “Yes…Why?” He replied, “Well, you’ve been sighing a lot lately.”
That hit me like a brick because, in my mind, sighing meant…’worrying too much and not trusting God like one should.’
It put me on a GUILT TRIP that I couldn’t shake!
At the time, I was leading a table group as part of our ladies’ Bible study. Since this thought was related to the current study, I threw it out there for discussion. It resonated with a dear friend who was quick to reassure me that she didn’t see it as a sign of lack of trust, but as a sign of trust.
Then, lo and behold, Psalm 38:9 popped up in my Bible reading the very next day! I excitedly contacted my friend with, “Maggie, you will never guess what I just came across in the Book of Psalms!” As I contemplated all that was happening with my ‘feelings’ and my sighing, I realized that maybe these moments of sighing were actually a sign of surrender.
“Lord, there is nothing I can do about this—so (sigh!), I’ll just place it in your hands.”
Well, duh, right?
So, I did my excavation and dug into Psalm 38. (here)
You can quickly see that David wrote this Psalm at a time when he was overcome with guilt over his recent sins and, with a heavy heart, pleaded with God for forgiveness. In the midst of this guilt, David sighed.
The Editor of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary writes that sighing is not a sign of doubt, but a calling out to God in a "language only God understands."
Roy Clarke, in the updated version of Treasury of David, refers to a quote from Samuel Lee and states that calling out to God in this way involves a mixture of words and sighs.
I felt so much at peace knowing that I no longer had to be on a guilt trip about sighing!
There are many other reasons that one may find herself (or himself) sighing. I think it comes down to being tired….
Tired of being anxious…
Tired of worrying…
Tired of trying to figure things out on our own…
Tired of evaluating choices…
Tired of just being tired!
If you find yourself sighing regularly, consider this as a possible prayer:
Lord, You know my struggles, my concerns, and my cares…and You know my heart. Please accept my sighs as an offering of surrender to Your guidance, Your direction, Your sustaining grace, and yes, like David, even in my repentance, Your forgiveness....
...and go ahead and sigh!
For background, please click here for previous installment on Detours.
Barker, Kenneth L and Kohnlenberger, John R III, editors, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary- Old Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.
Spurgeon, Charles Haddon (updated by Roy H. Clarke), The Treasury of David, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997.