As a young woman, I thought that well manicured hands were a sign of beauty, an indication of a woman who had it all “together.” Long, painted nails were my glory. I tried to find time to give myself a manicure, and when finances allowed I went to the nail salon. However, as I have grown older I have come to see a different beauty in hands.
My grandmother’s hands were worn, yet strangely smooth and shiny. During the Depression, they had picked cotton in the dust bowl of Oklahoma. Later in life, her hands tried to earn a living for her and her six children by washing dishes. But what I remember most are the hands that made everyone their own special favorite pie on special occasions. This simple act showed so much of her character, her desire to make everyone feel uniquely loved.
My mother’s hands are long and thin, graceful even. They saw prayer circles clad with grasped hands of every color during the race riots in Chicago. She opened her hands to the poor (Prov. 31:20). A guitar was often played by those beautiful hands, singing praises to the Light of the World. She sang about putting her “hand in the hand of Man who stilled the water.” But what I remember most are the hands that held mine in a quiet moment.
My pastor’s wife’s hands are busy doing for others. They are cooking meals, playing with children, and comforting the broken. Her hands wipe away the tears of the brokenhearted. I most remember her hands making a Chicken Kiev, baked potato, and salad for me when someone had physically violated me. She didn’t say much, and that was better. Instead, she just comforted with the work of her hands.
There are accounts in the Bible of people using their hands. In one such example, Moses was asked about his hands. He didn’t feel qualified. He felt God had asked the wrong man to do a big job. He felt like no one would take him seriously.
Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’” The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff” (Exodus 4:1-2).
God always places in our hands the very thing we need in order to do his will. To say that we have nothing in our hand is to say that God asks us to fail. He does ask us to do big things, but the beautiful thing is that often those big things are found in the small stuff we can do with our hands.
This Mother’s Day, think about the many hands of women who have cared for and inspired you. The hands that feed us. They have been many. Hands to help us up out of pit of despair. Hands that have been bound to ours, forming a bond far stronger than that of a girl alone. So many have given a hand to applaud my accomplishments, while others have given a hand to make dreams come true. Whatever the case, the hands of those who serve us have brought beauty from ashes in our lives.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra