Some time ago a pastor mentor said to me, “Most of being a pastor involves holding people’s hands.”
In our lives we wish people would move out, grow up, be able to handle things on their own, and not need our help or aid. But in the end, most of our work in our home, church, and community involves holding hands. People need a lot of hand holding, and sometimes we are the people that have to do it.
Sometimes we have to even hold our pastor’s hand, or the bank manager’s hand, or the insurance company’s hand. Those are the hardest hands to hold. The frustrating thing about a life of hand holding is when it’s for people we think should be above it or over it, or should know better. Nonetheless we have to go in and rescue them and come to their aid. It just shouldn’t be.
Sometimes our desire for government policies or personal rules is really because we don’t want to help people. If at all possible, we want to hold as few as hands as possible. After all we have our own lives to care for, and holding other people’s hands means not taking care of the things we need to do.
But no amount of government programs, no utopian political model, no amount of hand-ups or hand-outs will change what will always be. Jesus said, “The poor you will have with you always.” (John 12:8) As long as there is an earth there will be diapers to change, clothes to mend, people to help, knees to bandage, and tears to dry. In short nothing can eliminate the biblical fact: “The poor you will have with you always.”
Jesus did more than just hold our hand when we needed it. Like a shepherd He carried us in His arms (Isaiah 40:11). Jesus gave His life not for the righteous or the saved, but for the destitute and the ungodly. “Can a woman forget her nursing child …? Even these may forget, … yet I will not forget you. … Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” (Isaiah 49:15-16) In Jesus wounded hands we see His love inscribed.
Jesus was the original hand holder. It’s a wonder He doesn’t get sick of it. How many times have we needed Him to hold our hand? As many times as we have asked He is there (and even when we don’t). Like a father who holds the hand of his young child, so God delights to assist us in our needs. He is the God of poopy diapers, scraped knees, bumbled futures, and children who never quite make it out of the house. He is the God of holding hands. He is the God of hand-ups and hand-outs, second chances (and even third).
Newly married, a particular couple had a small disagreement during a long car ride. At a rest stop the couple got out of the car. As they walked to the building together the husband reached out to grab his wife’s hand-to which the wife pulled back abruptly. A truck driver, noticing the scene, shouted out in a commanding voice behind them, “HOLD HIS HAND!!!” The couple started laughing, the incident was remembered, yet the content of the argument was forgotten. That couple learned something that day. Sometimes life and love means holding hands…even when you don’t want to.