Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:27
When I was diagnosed with arthritis in my hands, I was devastated. I was still in my forties and was in no way prepared for dealing with what I considered an “old person’s disease.” Besides, I played both piano and guitar, and music was a huge part of my ministry. Losing the use of my fingers was unthinkable. Whatever else I was doing and thinking about, for months after that first diagnosis there was a steady undercurrent of fear, as the thought of my deteriorating hands never fully left my mind.
I was lying awake one night, and as I often did in those days, I was “checking” my hands – opening and closing them to see which fingers were stiff and whether I could still make a tight fist. I began to pray, reminding the Lord (as if He needed reminding of anything) of what I needed those hands for – how I played guitar and sang for the cancer patients in the hospital and the residents in the nursing home, how I often led little children in singing songs about Jesus, and how I occasionally sang an offertory at church accompanying myself on the guitar or piano. I reminded Him of the weddings I often sang for, and how I used songs as a springboard to tell people about Him. Suddenly in the middle of my whiny spiritual resume, the thought of God’s sovereignty crashed my pity party. It settled in my mind in the form of two statements:
1. If God wants to use my hands, He’ll fix them.
2. If He doesn’t want or need to use them, then IT DOESN’T MATTER.”
I thought about that for a moment- IT DOESN’T MATTER! As the stress began to drain from my body, I found myself laughing. Of course! God hasn’t fallen off His throne. Silly me. And I drifted off to sleep.
It has been nearly twenty years since that night, and I am still playing guitar and piano, and I’ve added Celtic harp to my skills. I still love to sing. Needless to say, my fingers still work, with some help from a physical therapist and the stretches and exercises he gave me to do twice a day.
My hands work well enough, but if I’m not careful, I can get sidetracked by the dull joint pain, or by looking at the knobby knuckles and the finger brace I wear on one finger that small children invariably ask, “What’s that?” If I let myself, I can start thinking how pretty my hands used to be and restart the pity party that nobody wants to go to, including me.
At those times I remember the day Jesus reminded me of His hands. These were the hands that created the universe – that created me. As a carpenter Jesus probably had hands that were rough and calloused. And yet these were the hands that healed the sick with a single touch, that took the children in His arms and showed them the Father’s love. And these were the hands that were brutally nailed to a cross to pay for my sins.
Of course, Jesus is no longer on earth in a mortal body. He is in His resurrected, glorified body. He appeared to His disciples in that glorified body, but something remained from His mortal body that caused them to recognize and believe in Him: His hands still bore the nail holes that showed the depth of His love for them – for all of us.
From the world’s perspective, my hands aren’t the gorgeous specimens today’s women would like to have. But I have to ask myself, So what? From an eternal perspective, I think I’m in good Company.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for Your incredible love for us. As we think of the nails in Your hands and feet, the thorns on Your head, the spear in Your side, the scourge on Your back – as we consider the betrayal, the denial, the mocking – may we never, ever take for granted what You have done for us, and may that unfathomable love silence every trivial complaint that tries to enter our minds and hearts, in Your precious Name. Amen.