A man with leprosy[a] came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.
When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
I am always amazed at the many stories of the healing hands of Jesus, how he stretched out his hands and laid them upon others—people whom you and I probably would not want to touch. In each situation, Jesus recognized the infirmity before being told what was wrong. He did not have to touch these people; he certainly did healings without physically touching anyone. Yet, there is something affirming about a doctor asking what is wrong, listening to you, and placing his/her hands on you to heal you.
Over the years, I will admit I have never been a fan of going to the doctor. I am a reasonably fit fifty-year-old woman who had never been hospitalized for an illness before. I rarely miss work for an illness; like most working mothers do, I powered through.
On April 6, 2017, however, all of this changed abruptly; I discovered I had breast cancer. I was stunned.
I had always viewed myself as a healthy person, following the normal rules for a healthy lifestyle–a good diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise and sleep, etc. Breast cancer does not run in my family.
How could this have happened to me? I am now past the “stunned silence” phase of my reaction to the news, and have begun the “active resistance” phase. This has meant spending more time at doctors appointments than I ever have in my life.
I am having to change my original view of going to the doctor (i.e. “this is a waste of my time…I’m fine”) to “What am I going to glean from this experience? How am I going to transform this challenging situation into something better for someone else in the future?”
Twenty-Two Pairs Of Hands
Thinking back over the past few weeks, I have had numerous people place their hands upon me in healing. In just my doctor visits alone, I have had approximately twenty-two people touch me—
- checking my blood pressure and vital signs,
- taking my temperature,
- taking blood samples,
- performing mammograms,
- performing breast exams, and
- setting IV line.
All of these activities take place in close proximity, coming in contact with the body in fairly intimate ways. As a patient, it is difficult to make yourself so vulnerable to another person, especially someone you have never met before. Being in the “all together” wearing a drafty hospital gown (or better yet, one of those classy paper vests) does not help, either. To be ill is to put yourself on display in ways you would prefer not to.
Yet, I have also noticed that the vast majority of my health care workers are incredibly empathetic and kind. They hold my wrist gently as they check my pulse. They put their hands on my shoulders and guide me to where I should stand for my X-Ray. They pat my back when coming out of the 30-minute long MRI scan saying, “You were a trooper! You made it!”
They look into my eyes and say, “You are young and healthy. We’re going to come up with a plan, and we’re going to help you through this.”
Not normally lacking for words, I have been rendered speechless many times, finding my eyes filling with tears of gratitude.
Healing Hands Of Jesus For Others
I am preparing myself for numerous more doctor visits and follow-up radiation treatments after my lumpectomy surgery. I have no doubt I will experience more healing hands along the way.
Later on, I hope I can also be the healing hands of Jesus for others by saying, “You have cancer? Me, too. How are you?” And I will reach out my hand and touch their arm in solidarity and love.
Guest Author: Beck Lister
Beck has been an Associate professor of Music at Lebanon Valley College since 2003. For her entire life, she has been part of music and worship in churches in several different denominations. Check out her blog, B-Flat Christian for more of her writing.