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Friday, April 27, 2012

The Man with the Shriveled Hand

I have been away from this blog for awhile, dealing with some storms in life (including tax season) which gobbled up all of my focus even when I had free time to spend here. Today I'm back, only to briefly share something that God put on my heart yesterday morning.

I dreamed about the man with the shriveled hand, who Christ healed (Matthew 12: 9-14; Mark 3: 1-6; Luke 6: 6-11). Now, this miracle happened so that Jesus could prove His point that the Sabbath observances had reached such an extreme that it was considered unlawful by some to do anything on the Sabbath, even something good, like healing.  I recount all that so you know I haven't forgotten the story, since I'm about to talk about other aspects of the miracle instead.

Do You Want to Be Healed?

So many of Jesus' miracles always began with the question, "Do you want to be healed?"  The answer to this question always seemed so obvious to me as a reader, but I guess it wasn't to them. I can't accurately imagine being afflicted with a health problem of any kind that would keep me out of fellowship with my fellow human beings, because God has blessed me with good health. But, if I were to be so afflicted that I couldn't work and had to beg for food, that I couldn't marry or own a house because I couldn't work, I would think I would want healing.  Maybe the people who said "no" (if any did) were afraid of the changes to their lifestyle that such healing could bring.

Jesus didn't ask this question of the man with the shriveled hand. This is just my own speculation, but maybe Jesus, the man, and all of His audience were already clear on this point. Perhaps the man had been attending the Synagogue for some time, praying for deliverance from his handicap, and everyone knew why he was there. I don't know, but it is a point to be raised. The fact is, I think Jesus knew the man wanted healing before He even saw Him there, and I think it was for that specific man that Jesus had gone into the Synagogue that day.

Humiliation Before Deliverance

If any part of you does not quite meet up to the public's views of "normal" or "beautiful," then you know what it is like to shy away from the prying eyes of a crowd. This man had experienced a lot of that, I'm sure. I don't know what had caused his malformed right hand--it might have been a genetic birth defect, a disease, or an injury--but I can pretty confidently say that he didn't want everyone staring at it.

That day, he was minding his own business, when Jesus walked in and told him to stand up in front of everyone--everyone from the town where he lived, everyone who was traveling through, everyone he respected and even those who had treated him badly.

It had to be terribly, terribly humiliating to stand up there, with everyone staring and little children pointing, and face the crowd of his peers.  But, he did it.  Why? Because he wanted deliverance so much more than he wanted his dignity. He wanted God to take notice of him so much more than he cared what other people thought.  He swallowed his pride and stood up.

After that huge internal conflict was past, all that Jesus told him to do was hold out his hand, and just like that, his hand was completely normal, just like the other one.  His hand had been healed because he had not allowed anything to come between himself and God's gift, not even his own pride. This man illustrated that when we come to Christ for healing, we come with humility, letting nothing stand in our lives that denies our great need for Christ's help.

Total Healing

The healing that this man had was total restoration.  His hand looked perfectly normal, showing no traces of his past infirmity, as if it had just been an illusion all along. It could be that his hand had never been like the other one, and in that case, something was restored to him that had never been his. However it had been before, I'm sure every day, from then on, he saw that hand and thanked God for the undeniable miracle that had been given to him.

And that, my friends, is a very important thing to point out about this miracle. When God heals, He restores completely. He won't half-way fix the problems in your life. He can take them away completely, leaving no visible traces of the past. God is so powerful, He can take away bad habits and addictions, emotional scars and family problems, and leave behind a shining picture that is better than any healing you could have imagined. Believe me! More importantly, believe the man with the shriveled hand, who was healed.

Are you just like the man with the shriveled hand? Now is your chance. Stand up, brush off your shame about your need, admit it without reservations, and reach out to the God who will heal you and restore you completely! He can and will do it, so don't wait another day!