A Compassionate Touch (Prayer Devotional for the week of January 17, 2016)

I come from a very huggable family. When my brother and I were little and our family would go to visit aunts & uncles, cousins, and grandparents out of town, we used to wait impatiently after our mom would say it was time to leave … and then spend the next half-hour hugging and kissing everyone goodbye. As an adult, I look back on those days with fond memories, and especially since many of those loved ones have passed away by now, I would love to have 30 minutes again of hugging and kissing all of them.

 

There’s something very special about human touch. Physical touch is one of our primary senses. It’s so important that researchers have found skin-to-skin contact to be vital in babies’ development. Physical touch is even one of the five “love languages” defined by Dr. Gary D. Chapman about how we express affection to each other. Even if you aren’t the touchy-feely type, there’s still something special about tender, loving contact with another person.

 

I find it interesting that although Jesus had the power to heal people remotely – and he did perform many miracles from a distance or with a simple verbal command (remember Lazarus being raised from the dead in John 11 or the paralyzed child in Matthew 8:5-13?) – he sometimes chose to make physical contact with people as part of their healing process. There are many examples in the gospels, including a crippled woman in Luke 13:10-13 and Peter’s feverish mother-in-law in Matthew 8:14-15, among others.

 

One passage that sticks out to me, though, is Mark 1:40-42. The author records that Jesus was “moved with compassion” when a man with leprosy approached him and begged for healing. Jesus touched him, and the man was healed instantly. Jesus didn’t have to touch the man; in fact, it was socially uncouth for him to do so, since the man had leprosy. He could have simply spoken a word, and the man would have been healed. Instead, Jesus extended a compassionate touch to an untouchable person.

 

So, the question for us is this: Who in our lives is “untouchable,” yet in need of compassion? How can we be the hands and feet of Jesus to the hurting people in our world?

 

Aches & pains

There are no kid-brags or spiritual insights on this post; I just need to whine.

I hurt.

My knees hurt; my wrists and hands hurt; my feet hurt. Sometimes it hurts so bad that I stand still in my office for a few seconds or walk in place for a few paces before I venture down the hall because I don’t want people to notice me limping. It’s not the same type of limping that I remember post-knee-surgery a couple of summers ago. This is the type of slow, crickety walk where everything hurts and you just want to get from Point A to Point B without drawing attention to yourself.

It’s very frustrating. And embarrassing. But mostly frustrating. It’s embarrassing because I know that I’ve gained back a lot of the weight that I lost two years ago, but it’s frustrating because these aches and pains can’t just be weight-related. It’s frustrating because it’s gotten to the point where I pick and choose what routes to take in the office building to avoid stairs and which chairs to sit in that won’t hurt too much when I try to stand back up (and that won’t be too obvious as I try to discretely help push myself up with my arms, since my knees hurt like *#$)!_|{;@.

Arthritis runs rampant in my family, so I went to my doc a few weeks ago, and after a barrage of questions, poking & prodding and some blood work, she wants me to see a rheumatologist to figure out why I’m experiencing such painful arthritis-like symptoms that I’m still rather young to be having. (<<That’s nice to hear!) The actual rheumatoid factor screening came back negative, so that’s encouraging. However, there’s another test called the sed rate, which isn’t diagnostic in and of itself, but it is indicative of inflammation in the body somewhere. That one came back higher than she liked, hence the referral to the rheumatologist. Unfortunately, there’s only one in my city, so I can’t get in until January.

In the meantime, I’m feeling like a crotchety woman twice my age.