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Hand Holding - By Pastor Thomas Engel


Do you remember how you learned to ride a bike? Did you go from tricycle to training wheels?

Or did you go straight to a two wheeler?

In answering those questions for myself, I have a faint memory of a tricycle and training wheels in my childhood.

While I was writing this about how we learn to ride a bike, I think, as a little kid, I had resented the training wheels. I was the youngest of the guys in the neighborhood, and I didn’t want the other guys to see me with training wheels.

Although my memory isn’t filled with all the details, I know I got my dad to run alongside me and hold on to my seat until I found my balance.

When we are first learning to do something, we need a person to go alongside us to show and teach us the way.

Especially at the beginning of things, we need a lot of “hand holding.” We need someone to “hold” on to us until we get it on our own like my dad running alongside me while I was bobbling from side to side on my bike.

How about teaching a preschooler to use scissors? I suppose there are a lot of different ways to teach cutting paper. You can talk about the mechanics of how scissors work, but that technical explanation will probably go over the head of the young child.

Or you can put your hand over the child’s hand and move the scissors with your hand, so the child feels what it’s like to cut paper with scissors.

That’s literally using a “hand holding” teaching method. Most of the time when we talk about “hand holding,” we are using it figuratively. We are talking about words of support, guidance, and encouragement.

We want those who we are helping to become independent. It’s natural to do things all by ourselves.

If my memory serves me right, I just wanted to get on the bike and ride. But, a lot of life, like learning to ride a bike, needs help from others-at least at the start.

From the early stages of life through all the way into our last days, we need to gulp down that self-pride that says, “I can do that by myself.” The truth is that we all need help from time to time.

We have become an individualistic society. When we look at other people, we are seeing them as competition.

Human cooperation is rare these days. In our ideas and opinions, we see the other person as the enemy to be defeated.

We are losing-if we already haven’t lost completely-the desire to come together with all of our ideas to make super-ideas for the benefit of everyone.

Instead of seeing each other as the opposition, we can see each other as essential resources, so we can work together to make a better world.

A man was feeling chest pains, so he went to the emergency room. The pains got severe, and the doctors found that he was having a heart attack and needed surgery right away.

As he was waiting to go into surgery, he was afraid. A nurse came by and held his hand while he waited. The man made it through surgery, and he went on to therapy and is now doing well.

This man is a psychologist. He thought about that nurse and how her holding of his hand while he waited in his fear of surgery made him feel better.

I read the article that he wrote on the importance of “hand holding” from his experience of having a heart attack.

In the article, he talked about how in one way we are to be independent. We don’t someone having to holding us up all the time.

We want to graduate from the rounded scissors to the pointed scissors.

I remember my certificate from kindergarten that I can use scissors properly. It’s almost as important to me as my college degree, for it officially shows that I can learn to do something all by myself.

As I get older, I am finding necessary that at any age it’s important to challenge oneself and to always have new goals-you can check out the school’s Facebook where you will see how I’m learning to moonwalk-I’ll be happy to give you a basic lesson.

But, this psychologist also wrote how in another way we are to support and help one another. After all, life is tough, I like the idea that when I need it, someone will come and hold my hand in the hard times.

As people of faith, we are to be people who reach out with our hands to hold other people’s hands when they are in need of comfort. We are to people who reach out with our hands to lend a helping hand.

We get our motivation to use our hands in the most useful of ways because we see how our Lord and Savior, Jesus, used his hands while he walked on this earth.

In his ministry, Jesus used his hands to stretch out over stormy seas and calm them. When Peter lost confidence in his walking on water, Jesus reached out his hands to pull him up.

As men were about to stone a women, Jesus put up his hands to stop them. For a man who was blind, Jesus made with his hands a paste of mud, and he put it on the man’s eyes to heal them.

Jesus’ hands reached out to lepers and to the poor. When people were hungry, he broke bread with his hands and that bread was able to feed thousands.

Most importantly, Jesus touched sinners and was able to give them forgiveness of every sin.

Jesus can forgive sins because he also used his hands in way that no one else could.

As the Son of God, he went to the cross. In the movie, The Passion, there is a dramatic scene where we see one of Jesus’ arms stretched across the cross. We see a soldier opening the hand of Jesus, and a nail placed in his palm. Then, we see a heavy hammer raised into the air to pound the nail into Jesus’ hand.

Thomas wants to see these hands. He wants to see the scars from those nails.

Every Sunday after Easter, we read from this story of Thomas wanting to see the scars on Jesus hands for proof that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead.

After many years on the Sunday after Easter, I still ask why do we have this story about Thomas and his doubt.

Is it that the death and resurrection of Jesus is too easily put aside as we go back to the routine of our lives?

We know the saying about how work makes for worry. Our lives do get busy with all that we have to do, but that is all the more reason to have at the center of our lives all that Jesus has done for us and is doing for us.

The world may not see Jesus’ hanging on the cross and his walking out of the tomb as a significant event, but as people of faith, we see that everything in our lives is about what Jesus did with his hands for us.

God the Father pours out His grace on Jesus, and whatever Jesus has is ours, too.

Jesus is our friend and helper. Just think we have such a friend by our side who has the power to overcome sin, Satan, and eternal death.

We don’t want to miss a day of our lives without knowing that Jesus is alongside of us. He is holding our hands as we move through life with all its ups and downs.

If you are ever in doubt or have any lack of confidence that you are going to make it, see the scars on Jesus’ hands and know that Jesus is just the one to help you with everything.

Jesus showed them to Thomas, and he became more confident, and Jesus will show them to you, so you can become a solid believer.

If you are ashamed and feel the guilt of sin, see the scars of Jesus’ hands and know that you are fully forgiven.

If you are feeling weak and tired, see the scars of Jesus’ hands and know you have the same strength of Jesus.

If you are looking to give help and support to others in their difficulties, see the scars of Jesus’ hands to be that help and support for others.

What’s sadly ironic is that as people in politics and society are trying to make the world a better place, we are seeing more division.

Although we may have differences about how the world can be a better place, we can hold each other hands in our efforts.

What can only bring us together is that we all hold hands with Jesus’ scarred hands.

Out of love, Jesus gave his hands, so they could be pierced for every person in the world, so we can have life now and forever.

For a minute, let’s go back to 1979 and the commercial for Bell Systems. Do you remember Diana Ross singing, “Reach out and touch somebody’s hand and make the world a better place if you can?”

I’m not sure how much better we can make the world, for the world is just a hard place.

We know to look both ways when crossing the street. We don’t need our moms to hold our hands.

But, when it comes to this world, we do have to admit the streets of life can be treacherous at times.

So, we remember the scars on Jesus’ hands that tell us that he has overcome the world out of his love for the world.

With those scarred hands, Jesus is holding our hands. Knowing Jesus is holding our hands, we have all the more reason for us to be “hand holders” who share Jesus’ love-the only love that can bring us together in true peace, joy, and comfort.


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