God holds our hand
God promises to take hold of our hand. What comfort we find in his promise.
Eric S. Hartzell
A long time ago the Beatles crooned the refrain, “I want to hold your hand.” Today it seems pretty tepid and tame that two people who love each other would still want to hold hands. That doesn’t seem so exciting in our world that has everything before marriage and little after. A song about holding hands wouldn’t sell many downloads or albums today.
PEOPLE STILL HOLD HANDS
You still can see handholding though. You might notice Grandma and Grandpa holding hands in the assisted living home. You might think to yourself, “Aw, isn’t that nice! Look, they still love each other, and they still hold hands!” How quaint!
You can see handholding on the first day of school when the older brother takes his younger sister’s hand and walks with her through the school doors. She keeps looking up at him. It’s at that time that an older brother might realize that he really does love that little sister of his. Never mind the spats they have when she insists on tagging along after him at the house.
You can see a pastor hold the hand of that dear widow at her death bed. He feels like holding her hand and maybe pats it once in a while with his other hand.
And, of course, you see mothers holding the hands of their children at busy traffic intersections.
Our Father in heaven likes to hold hands. If you look, you’ll see him do it. If you listen, you will hear him say it: “I will take hold of your hand” (Isaiah 42:6). You also will hear Asaph in Psalm 73 say to this God who likes to hold hands, “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory” (vv. 23,24).
GOD’S GRIP IS STRONG
Go back and look at the mother with her child at the busy intersection. Look at how she holds the hand of her youngster. As she watches the cars hurrying by, she doesn’t hold out her hand and say, “Here, hang on to Mommy’s finger.” She says, “Give me your hand!” Then she clamps down on that hand with all her parental love and protection. When they go across the busy intersection, it isn’t going to be the child hanging on to Mom’s hand. It is going to be Mom hanging on to her child’s hand.
It is like that when our God says, “I will take hold of your hand.” We notice with Asaph that it is, “You hold me by my right hand” (emphasis added). What a great thing to know in times of trouble and weakness that being safe isn’t dependent on our grip. Being safe is dependent on God’s grip . . . and it is very strong. In fact, nothing in the world can pry his fingers loose as they hold onto our hands.
We notice the scars on his dear hands. He got those scars holding on to our hands. Yes, he did! Because he was holding on to our hands, he got the wounds to his hands. He proved how tightly he was hanging on to our hands when he offered those same hands to the soldier with the mallet that day at his cross. That Good Friday Jesus took us by the hands at the intersection of his cross and God’s righteous judgment and walked us across that straight walkway. It wasn’t because of clever footwork on our part that we avoided the oncoming semi-truck of our impending judgment. We made it safely across that day because Jesus held our hands. It was just as he said: “I will take hold of your hand.”
When David was in the wilderness of Ziph running scared from King Saul, dodging this way and that to escape his relentless pursuer, he may have thought what Asaph wrote, “My feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold” (Psalm 73:2). His perception was that his hand had almost slipped too. Perhaps he was thinking to himself, “How am I ever going to escape? How is life ever going to be right for me again?” But that same Psalm 73 that speaks about our feet slipping also says that God is holding us by our right hands.
David’s friend Jonathan knew this. He went looking for his friend David and found him in his wilderness of Ziph. “And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God” (1 Samuel 23:16). How did Jonathan do it? Did he shout from the curb, “Just hang on, David”? David was weak and tired. He couldn’t hang on. Or did Jonathan say what Isaiah said, “David, your God says, ‘I will take hold of your hand!”? That’s where the comfort and encouragement lies for all of us on our bad and harried days. Our God says, “I will take hold of your hand.”
THE THRILL OF HOLDING HANDS
People who love each other thrill when they hold hands. It still happens today. Thank God it does! The two who love each other remember when they had the courage on that date long in the past to reach for each other’s hand. They didn’t know how it would be received that first time. They furtively reached for that dear hand. It was maybe clumsy too. They could hear their hearts pounding in their ears. And joy of all joys! The hand they reached for didn’t pull away. It actually squeezed back!
If you think this reminiscence is you squeezing God’s hand, think again. This emotion and feeling—and love!—are his. He remembers that first time. He who has written your name on the palm of his hands remembers. He is the one who thrills to hold your hand—and have you squeeze his hand in return. He loves you so! When he says, “I will take hold of your hand,” he isn’t talking about a thoughtless action. Reaching for your hand and grasping it isn’t something God does with no emotion. He does it because he loves you. He likes to hold your hand. And he especially likes it when he knows you love to hold his hand too!
Think for a moment about the one holding your hand. Think who he is. Look up! It will make you smile. In times of trouble it can even make you laugh. What could possibly make you sad and afraid then? There he is! There’s your God! And he has told you once again, “I will take hold of your hand!”
And you say with your smile and your heart, “You hold me by my right hand!”
Eric Hartzell is pastor at Cross and Crown, Georgetown, Texas.
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Author: Eric S. Hartzell
Volume 101, Number 9
Issue: September 2014
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