"Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, 'I am willing; be cleansed'" Mark 1:41 (NASB)
The labor and delivery of my second child was fast. In fact, within two hours after the first inkling of pain, I was in the hospital being prepped for delivery. The intense pain surprised and overwhelmed me. Because of the rapid progression, I had no pain relief.
With my husband's hand squeezed in my left one, I looked into the face of the young nurse standing at my right, coaching me through the delivery. After an excruciating contraction, I asked, "Will you hold my hand?" She smiled and grabbed hold of my right hand while another wave of pain radiated through my body.
It sounded pitiful and needy to ask someone to hold my hand, but at that moment I needed her strength.
There have been other times I've needed to hold someone's hand. The first time I went snorkeling, I thought I was going to pass out I was hyperventilating so badly. I held my husband's hand on my left and my son's hand on my right until I could control my breathing and enjoy the incredible sights.
Hiking up Angel's Landing in Zion National Park, I held someone's hand when I wasn't grasping on to rocks.
I've held my mother's hand and my sisters' hands as we've walked through the pain of losing loved ones.
There's something about physical touch that brings comfort and stability in an uncertain world. The New Testament is filled with stories of Jesus touching those around Him. He laid His hands on women who had been scorned, children who were dancing at His feet and lepers ashamed of their faces.
In this world of virtual relationships, conversations managed via electronic devices and fear of inappropriate touch, I wonder if we are losing our physical connections to each other. And yet God designed us to need touch. In fact, it is critical to our health-both emotional and physical. Babies need touch for their brains to develop and children need touch for their emotions to develop. Experts say appropriate touch has a profound effect on the brain's programming and re-programming.
Perhaps it's time to become more intentional about offering loving and appropriate touch to others. We all need it, but often find it's awkward to accept and offer. My immediate family is very comfortable with touch, as my children have grown up with lots of physical affection. But I have to be intentional about reaching out to others in gentle and creative ways.
I have discovered reading the New Testament that the first believers were very affectionate with each other. In fact, at the end of Acts 20, we read that all the believers embraced and kissed Paul as he was leaving for a journey. They were also encouraged to greet each other with a holy kiss.
While I realize not everyone is ready to be touched with such intimacy, I am challenged to bring healthy touch into my relationships in greater measure. Whether it's a hug, pat on the head, stroke on the arm, or a holy kiss, touch is needed in our society. Maybe if we brought more healthy touch into our relationships, people wouldn't be driven to seek it in inappropriate ways.
For whatever reason, God designed us to need the physical touch of others. The next time you are at church, a family get-together or out with friends, challenge yourself to offer healthy touch to two or three people, especially those seniors in your midst. Become the person who offers a hug, rather than waiting for one.
Dear Lord, I know You designed us to need the touch of other people. It's not always easy to admit we need someone to hold our hand, or give us a hug. Help me to be more aware of the needs of those around me and to offer gentle touch in natural ways. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Study different Scriptures where Jesus reached out and touched someone in the NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women. We've sprinkled 366 devotions, written by our team, throughout this Bible to help encourage you.
Reflect and Respond:
What are some reasons you refrain from offering a gentle touch to others?
How can you emulate Jesus' care for others, as seen in Scripture?
Matthew 19:14-15, "But Jesus said, 'Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.' And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left." (NLT)
1 Peter 5:14, "Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ." (NIV)
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Proverbs 31 Ministries
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