The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.”
“God, please just give me a sign!” This is probably one of the most instinctual things we can say to God in the face of uncertainty. And if you’ve ever wondered about your vocation in life, you have probably said these exact words at least once.
But like the miracles of Jesus, God does not give us signs on demand, a substitute for faith or trust in God – which is often what we are really asking for when we ask for a sign. Just as Jesus works miracles only in response to or as an invitation to faith, God gives signs to us only as an encouragement to continue believing and trusting in Him. And when what we are offered is an invitation to believe and trust God, like King Ahaz in our first reading who had already made up his mind, sometimes we’re not interested.
And the amazing thing is that God gives us signs anyways. They are often not what we asked for, but these signs are just what we need, because they help us learn to let go of our demands and our desire to do things all by ourselves, and instead to walk with God. That is after all, what Emmanuel means, “God is with us.”