At Your Right Hand

December 17, 2016

I’ve been thinking about hands a lot lately. In August, my dad contracted a severe strain of West Nile Virus, which contributed to a later diagnosis of Guillen-Barre Syndrome, robbing him of strength and dexterity in his hands. My dad, a typically self-sufficient and active guy, has become dependent on those around him to complete the simplest tasks. On our family vacation in July, my dad confidently used his hands to steer the boat, reel in his fishing pole, and cling for dear life to the inner tube while we pulled him through crashing waves. At one point, our overly excitable dog, Jasper, leaped into the lake and then panicked when he couldn’t climb back aboard the boat. My dad used his strong hands to grab Jasper, dripping wet and squirming, and haul him back to safety. But now, my dad’s hands are weak. Trying to keep a positive spirit, my dad jokes about how hard it is to pull up his pants in the morning without finger strength. This weekend, I held my dad’s hands as the doctors stuck a monstrous needle into his back for a spinal tap. I can only imagine the pain that he was feeling as he gripped my hands as hard as he could. Our hands, together, were sweaty—and trembling.

Trembling hands also remind me of my grandfather, who passed away last December from Parkinson’s. My grandpa owned a Chevy dealership his whole life, and he was known as the guy so friendly and loveable that he could talk the sternest cop out of giving him a speeding ticket. For as long as I can remember, my grandpa would insist on everyone linking hands while he said grace before our meals. During the last few years of his life, his voice and hands shook so violently during our prayers that it would be difficult to hold on, but we never gave up the tradition, even as his health was steadily waning. My grandpa’s hands, and my dad’s hands, exhibit a sort of strength in weakness that goes deeper than our human frailty.

The Bible also talks a lot about hands. Psalm 80:17-19 writes, “Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself. Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name. Restore us, LORD God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.” Some commentaries state that “the man at your right hand” refers to Jesus, the Messiah. Others believe that this phrase refers to Israel and to God’s people in general. Either way, the idea of God’s hand resting on us, through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, is a powerful image. It brings to mind the stories of Jesus’s hand reaching out to Peter over the waters, and Thomas’s insistence on seeing the nail marks on his Savior’s hands before he would believe. As we prepare for this Christmas season and a time filled with hands opening presents, lighting candles, and hanging ornaments on trees, I hope we will all take a moment to think about the significance of God’s hands in our lives and rejoice in the revival that His hands bring as they rest upon us and raise us up.

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  1. Thanks, Alexis. Your personal stories fit well with Psalm 80 and certainly help us to look forward, as we wait, for the strength we will have when Jesus comes!

  2. Thank you Alexis for this powerful message! I once heard a pastor preach on “hands” and the point I remember is that if we had to grasp God’s hand we would not be powerful enough to hang on to his hand. But when God grasps our hand, there is no slippage, just like your Dad grabbing Jasper. We pray that God will renew the strength in your Dad’s hands and the rest of his body!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Marion, and for sharing that image of God grasping our hand–I love it! Thank you for the prayers. I wrote this devotional back in October, and praise God, my dad’s strength has improved a lot since then! Our family has much to be thankful for this Christmas.