The hand that needed healed


There is a story in the Bible about Jesus healing a man with a withered hand. The healing is controversial to the teachers of the law at the time because it takes place on the Sabbath, the day of rest. The man with the shriveled hand is in the synagogue, the house of worship, when Jesus arrives. Everyone watches to see what Jesus will do, almost as if they planted the man on purpose. They weren’t interested in seeing the man healed; they were interested in finding a reason to accuse Jesus.

When we see someone in need, is it our heart’s desire to see them helped, healed and whole? Or would we rather use them as bait, as ammunition against those trying to help? Are we responding to the hurting and broken members of our community like Pharisees, or like Jesus?

Jesus responded to the man in need by telling him to get up, to stand front and center before the crowd. Jesus’ motive was not to embarrass the man. His motive was not to point out the man’s deformity, his lack. Jesus was motivated by love.

When the man was standing before the crowd, Jesus said to him, “Stretch out your hand.”

Notice that Jesus did not specify which hand he wanted the man to stretch out. The man could have stretched out either hand. He could have stretched out the good hand, the hand that stretched easily, the hand that worked hard on his behalf when the other was rendered useless. But he chose to stretch out the hand that needed healed.

Healing comes when we are brave enough to trust Jesus with our brokenness. Healing comes when we are brave enough to put our hurt, our lack, our hard thing front and center before others and ask for help. Healing comes when we stretch out that which needs healed.

As the director of Wilmington Hope House: A Safe Place for Women and Children, I am blessed to work with the most vulnerable members of our community – the marginalized and those outside the margins, the “least of these,” the thresh. Every day I see women bravely choose to stretch out that which needs healed. They bravely show up on our porch and admit that they have nowhere else to stay. They bravely admit that they are powerless over addiction. They bravely admit that they cannot control the voices in their heads. And in doing so they challenge me to a response: will I respond like the Pharisees, with judgment and a hardness of heart, or will I respond like Jesus, with a heart full of love and compassion for my sister, my neighbor, my friend?

In the story, the man stretches out his withered hand and it is completely restored. A miracle! Yet no one celebrated. No one threw a party. No one stood up to shake his now-perfect hand.

I have no interest in being like those Pharisees. I believe that every win – big or small – is worthy of a party!

When one of our guests at Hope House has a win – when she has a job interview or gets her HUD voucher or files for a replacement social security card – we celebrate. We hug; we laugh; we eat cake! When one of our guests graduates from rehab or has a milestone in her sobriety, we take over the stage at Your Father’s Kitchen and make a big announcement at dinner time to celebrate her and encourage others to know that healing is possible. We cheer; we cry; we eat cake!

Why? Because Jesus commissioned us to love one another, to care for one another, to weep when others weep and rejoice when others rejoice. It takes all of us to make up the family of God; we need each other.

Don’t miss the party. Love like Jesus loves (and eat cake!).

Katie Terrell is the director of Wilmington Hope House and shares in the ministry at Dover Friends Meeting.

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