The Hand of God
By DANNY MINTON
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So, I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
(“God Knows” aka “The Gate of the Year” Minnie Louise Haskins)
It’s a picture we see every day; a parent holding their child’s hand and leading them across dangerous territory. In fear, you see a child grasp the arm of someone close, looking for comfort in the face of the unknown. Something about the human touch of another person gives a sense of comfort and security. A kiss, a hug, the holding of hands, or a soft hand on a shoulder tend to send feelings of “I’m not alone” through a person’s inner being.
My favorite miracle story of Jesus is when he heals a man with leprosy. It’s simple but powerful in expressing how God, through His son, reaches out to hurting men and women. Here we find a man who comes to Jesus and begs him to heal him from a horrible disease. I picture this man alone and cast out from the rest of society. For years he has probably been without human contact, calling out, “Leper!” for people to know to stay away and not get too close. Within arms reach, he faces Jesus, begging for release from the cursed disease and made clean. Then Jesus, likely to the surprise of everyone around, stretched out his hand and touched the man. For the first time in years, another human being had physically touched him, giving him hope. It was a simple gesture but a powerful example of compassion and love for someone in pain.
Every day, we come across people in our lives who are experiencing pain or the loss of hope. You walk down the street, and in the eyes of many, you pass sadness and depression over things in their lives. We go to our job; we walk into the church building on Sunday morning, we sit in the waiting room of a hospital, or we sit at a meal with friends and family, and among us, if we open our eyes, we see those who are longing for a human touch.
Reading through social media comments, I discover people longing for someone to reach out and touch them with love and hope. So many people become caught up in situations where they are losing hope. Others mourn the loss of someone who has given them strength in the past and struggle to move forward. There are cries of people everywhere that call out, “Please, reach out to me!” I need a hand to hold to make it through these times.
In these times of darkness, we call out, “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” We need someone to help us through life’s darkness, pain, disappointments, and heartaches. If we listen, we will hear the encouragement, “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” God has given us His Spirit to touch our hearts with His love and strength. In a way, it’s like Jesus reaching out and touching the leper.
The world’s darkness can be scary, but we don’t have to face it alone. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:5 (NIV2011) He adds a few verses later, “Therefore, encourage one another, and build each other up.” (V. 11) God is always there for us, but we also need to be there for each other, being the Hand of God in their time of need. We need the touch of His love and encouragement.
A small child becomes scared as the thunder of a storm rattles the house, moves into their parent’s room, and snuggles between his mom and dad. He cannot see them in the darkness, but he knows they are there because of their touch. It is there, in the darkness he falls asleep feeling safe and secure because he can feel those who love him. So, when you are down, sad, or depressed, reach out and grasp the “Hand of God,” and he will walk with you through the darkness and into the “breaking of day.”
Danny Minton is a former Elder and minister at Southern Hills Church of Christ