Heathdale flower 28th October 2021

In His Hands

Have you ever felt unseen in your struggles, as if nobody could possibly understand what you're going through? There is One who can empathise with our weaknesses.

Heathdale flower

My mum grew up in a time where people were not as aware of the effects of prolonged periods in the harsh Australian sun as many people are today. As a consequence, she has numerous sunspots on her face, shoulders, arms, and the back of her hands. She now must regularly visit a skin specialist to have these sunspots treated or removed.

I can distinctly recall visiting her after she had a recent appointment with her skin specialist. Mum was cradling her hands in her lap as they were causing her a great deal of grief. I held out my hands and asked her to place her hands into mine. As she did, I could see the scars from the previously removed sunspots and the effects of this recent bout of surgery. As I held her hands, I couldn’t help but think, these are the hands that cradled me as a baby, picked me up when I fell over, hugged me with delight when I graduated university and yes, even helped to correct my behaviour when I didn’t do as I was told. Here are these hands that have seen and done so much, were scarred, wounded, and causing her grief and sorrow.

I was reminded of this moment with my mum when I read the following verse from the New Testament book of John, Chapter 20, verse 25, “…until I see in his hand… the print of the nails… will I believe.” As I reflected on this verse, I recalled the short story that I had heard called ‘He showed them His hands.’ This story spoke of the practical effect of Christ identifying with our pain and suffering that we can go through during dark and deeply challenging times. Christian literature bulges with the truth that those who have experienced suffering are able to derive incredible strength from the fact that our Lord, Jesus, has also endured deep pain. He knows exactly what we are thinking and feeling, and even in these darkest of moments, He is there with us.

A friend once told me that one of the most moving stories they have heard is from the book 'Ten Fingers for God' by Dorothy Clarke Wilson, in which she tells the story of Dr Paul Brand who worked with leprosy patients in Velore, India.

As the story goes, late one evening, Dr Paul dropped into a patient’s gathering where the air was heavy with the stench of crowded bodies, stale spices, and treated bandages. Upon seeing Dr Paul in their midst, the patients implored him to speak to them. Reluctantly, because he had nothing prepared, he stood up in their midst and looked around. What stood out to him at that moment was their hands. He noticed that some had no fingers, some only had some stumps and others were badly disfigured.

He looked up at them and said, “I am a hand surgeon, so when I meet people, I can’t help but to look at their hands!”

He went on to say that he would have loved to have met Jesus so that he could have studied His hands, and that it hurts him to think His hands had nails driven through them. The impact of the nails being driven through His hands, would have made Jesus’ hands looked horribly twisted and distorted.

As Dr Paul Brand spoke these words, it sent an electric surge through the people gathered there. They looked at each other and said, “You mean Jesus had hands like ours? He too had clawed shaped hands?” Tears began to flow down their cheeks. They had come to understand for the first time that their suffering was not unknown to Jesus. He too knew what it was like, as He could identify with their pain and suffering.

We may not have disfigured hands that caused grief and sorrow like the leprosy patients. Our pain or suffering may have been triggered by so many other things. An unkind word, a humiliating moment, a sense of loneliness, a tragic loss of a loved one, health taking a hit. There are many things that can pierce us and cause us grief and sorrow to make us feel like a nail has been driven through our heart, mind or soul.

No matter what the trigger has been, we too can know God’s comfort as we each face the pains of life. Our loving Saviour, with His nail pierced hands, is the one who can cradle us, hug us, pick us up when we fall over and even guide us on the path we are called to walk.

A constant prayer that the staff and I share is that each member of this incredible community can know individually and collectively the love of Jesus in their hearts, mind and souls each and every day, no matter what circumstances we face.