About a year and a half ago, I found out I was pregnant, again, after an early miscarriage a few months prior. I was initially over the moon, but it all quickly turned into what seemed to be a never-ending string of hurdles to jump and milestones to pass. I found myself both craving and dreading each test result and checkup, looking for a million different signs that we’d have a healthy baby. Surely if my beta HCG levels were this amount, everything would be okay. If the baby’s heartbeat could just be in that range, then I wouldn’t have to worry anymore. Of course, it never worked – I was never satisfied or put at ease by any of the good news that came our way. Because what if the next checkup was different? What if the next sign didn't come?
Mark 8:11-21 contains two passages that reflect this human desire for a never-ending number of signs that never satisfy or are remembered. In the first passage, Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees, who demand a sign to test him. He sighs and asks why this generation always asks for signs, and then tells them that no sign will be given. In the second passage, the disciples worry because they only have one loaf of bread. Jesus reminds them of the two previous miracles he performed, providing bread for thousands from just a few loaves. He wonders out loud how it is possible for them to be anxious, asking them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?”
If I put myself back in the shoes of when I was pregnant, I realize that what I was really asking was what I would think of God if things didn’t turn out exactly the way I wanted. Not, “will things be okay?” but rather, “will my faith be okay?” I’ve seen God show up in miraculous ways a thousand times – literal miracles when I was in overseas missions after undergrad, and in the small miracles that keep my world afloat every day. Why were none of those experiences “enough” for me to trust that He would walk with me through any fire that came my way? Why was I asking for signs over and over again, when He’d provided the equivalent of bread for thousands in my life so many times?
Lent is a time to ask these questions about our brokenness, and to remind ourselves that no sign will ever provide the deep reassurance that can only be found by trusting the character of God. Not only does He take seven loaves and feed four thousand people, He provides seven baskets of leftovers. The same God who made the heavens also cares about the small miracle of making sure people have enough to eat. This Lent, I encourage you to join me in praying for eyes that can see and ears that can hear and remember God’s character and daily miracles in our lives.
Julia Diaz lives in Trinidad with her husband Trevor, daughter Poppy, and two adopted street cats Chicken and Waffles. She enjoys Negronis and feel-good BBC shows like Great British Bake Off and Father Brown.