The deepest desires of our hearts can be signs from God
A Reflection for Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
You can find today’s readings here.
“Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!” (Is 7:11)
It’s difficult for me not to laugh at today’s first reading. God tells Ahaz, ‘go ahead, ask me for a sign.’ Ahaz knows better than to do that. He knows what he is supposed to say: “I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!” And to be fair, this does seem like the response that a mature person of faith should give. After all, Jesus tells us in the Gospels, “Blessed are you who believe without seeing” (Jn 20:29), and quotes Deuteronomy to Satan himself when tempted in the desert: “You shall not put the LORD, your God, to the test.” So, surely, “I will not tempt the Lord” is what an A student says here.
Wrong. Isaiah groans at Ahaz’s ignorance: “Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary my God?”
Go ahead, ask God for a sign. It might be a star high in the sky, but don’t be surprised if you find it a bit closer to your own heart.
I can’t help but identify with Ahaz in this story. How many times have I told a loved one the Right Thing To Say rather than actually searching for an honest answer? How many times have I said in prayer what I think a good person would say, what a smart person would say, what someone who isn’t religiously naive would say? Ask God for a sign? I might say that’s childish, even if it was God himself telling me to do the asking.
Pope Francis has been wrapping up a series of catecheses on discernment. It’s a window into the Holy Father’s mastery of Ignatian spirituality, and the series is worth reading in full. Early on, he reminds us that one way God speaks to us, gives us signs, is our desires. Now, we are often taught growing up to distrust our desires, to deny them in pursuit of God’s desire for our lives. And yet Francis reminds us that God himself puts our deepest and truest desires in our hearts.
So, go ahead, ask God for a sign. It might be a star high in the sky, but don’t be surprised if you find it a bit closer to your own heart.
Get to know Zac Davis, associate editor and senior director of digital strategy.
Favorite Christmas tradition?
Christmas Eve at my grandparents’: a bunch of people crammed into a few rooms. Chaos and merrymaking abound.
Which project are you most proud to have worked on this year at America?
Easy! My feature essay on wine and Catholicism was just published, and it pairs well with a fireplace and Christmas cookies.
Favorite Christmas photo?
Me and my sister with my grandma in 2018. We lost her in 2020, and I always think of her extra during Christmastime because of how hard she would work to make Christmas Eve at her house magical.