Squeezing God's Hand

When I was a child, thanks to many health issues, I was in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices a LOT.  And like any normal kid, I was pretty scared of all those specialists and their injections and machines that did scary things.  Usually my mother took me to all these appointments, but I remember one day in particular that my father took me to an ear specialist for them to do a particular procedure, and I was terrified.  I was probably about 5 years old, and every single instrument in that office terrified me. I wasn’t crying, but I’m sure my pale little face mirrored the fear I felt inside.

My father came up with a brilliant idea: he put out his thumb, and said, “If the doctor does anything that hurts you, you squeeze my thumb with your hand. That way I’ll know that it hurts.”  And I’m quite sure I immediately grabbed his thumb and started squeezing it just from the overwhelming desire to have my dad save me somehow from what was coming. To a child’s mind, squeezing his thumb was a magical way to transfer all the pain from me to him. And I could survive it because I knew that this connection would save me somehow from the effects of whatever procedure I had to endure.

That started a routine with my dad that lasted throughout my childhood--my little hand squeezing his large, calloused thumb so that he could have a solidarity with me in my suffering.  Like many childhood experiences, I’d forgotten all about it until this week, I was reading Isaiah 41:13, “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”  And suddenly, I had this image from the recesses of my memory of my right hand squeezing my father’s. I couldn’t help but reflect on the faith of a child, trusting that God holding my hand would erase all the fear. Not because God takes away all the pain I’ll ever face, but because He experiences it WITH me.  He goes through all those circumstances with me, and gives me His power and strength to withstand it.

Perhaps you’re facing something today that intimidates you--or downright scares you--and you’re wondering how you can possibly endure those circumstances.  May I encourage you to remember Who takes you by the hand and helps you through it all; squeezing His hand is like giving Him all the pain, and He’s willing to take it. He’s the God who tells us we don’t have to fear, because He’s there to help us.