By Helen Grace Lescheid
“Leave it in God’s hands now, Helen.”
I might have been angered by this advice-it sounded so trite. But it was spoken by a man in his eighties whose faith I deeply admired, and who had proven himself to be my good friend in many ways.
Whenever I was troubled about something, I could count on him and his wife to be there for me. She’d serve a cup of tea; he’d position himself to hear me better. I knew I had roughly an hour to pour out my
heart-a marriage strained by mental illness; fear for a grown son or daughter whose ways I couldn’t understand; deep disappointment in dashed hopes and splintered dreams. After an hour of careful listening, he’d say, “We’ve heard enough now. Let’s pray.”
Hushed, I’d listen to their affirmations of God’s faithfulness tested through eight decades of life. Then, humbly but boldly, they would petition God on my behalf.
My visit would end with those familiar words: “Leave it in God’s hands now, Helen.” The way he said those words often reminded me of a sigh that says, “Well now, that’s taken care of. Let’s get on with the rest of life.”
But for me, it wasn’t as easy as that. Many times I was driven by the need to do something. I demanded changes in my husband; I challenged my son or daughter; I wrote numerous letters and pounded on closed doors-all at great emotional price to me and with few results.
Reflecting on my friend’s childlike advice, I began to wonder, What does it mean to “leave things in God’s hands”? Had I ever truly done that? Usually I would resolve, I’ll let God do it, while still thinking I should do something about it myself. What would it be like to totally commit something into God’s hands? What kind of a place is God’s hands, anyway?
Intrigued, I began to study Scripture to see how it describes God’s hands. This is what I learned.
God’s hands are a place of majesty and power.
When Habakkuk had a vision of God, this is what he say: “His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled, the earth. His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was
hidden” (Hab. 3:3-4).
Isaiah heard God say, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?” and “My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens” (Is. 40:12, 48:13).
David declared in Ps. 89:13: “Your arm is endued with power; your hand is strong, your right hand-exalted.”
Moses and the Israelites sang: “Your right hand, 0 Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy” (Ex. 15:6).
After reading these descriptions I wondered, Can a God with such awesome power make a difference in a marriage that is one in name only? My husband had been in a mental hospital for the better part of five
years. The psychiatrist predicted it would take another twenty years before there might be significant change in his condition. He advised, “Get a legal separation; you need to get on with your own life.”
Alone in my bedroom, I picked up the wedding photo I had taken off the wall and placed on the bureau. For weeks I hadn’t been able to look at our radiant, young faces. The pain was too great. But now I wanted to take one more look before I made my decision. On the wall, beside the darkened spot where the photo had been hung the symbol that had topped our wedding cake – a brass cross with two small rings entwined.
Now the rings have been cruelly wrenched apart by mental illness, I thought. Sometimes I feel like half of me has been torn away. Will this pain never stop? Perhaps a legal separation is the answer. Maybe then I could begin to heal.
As I stared at the brass cross I remembered our wedding day almost twenty-eight years before. A much taller cross with entwined wedding rings had stood at the front of the church between two bouquets of
white gladioli. This symbol had been on our wedding invitations with the motto “United in Christ.”
Our lives had changed drastically since that wedding day, but had Christ changed? Had He also aged and cooled toward us? Was Christ still in our marriage or had He left us to flounder alone? Was Jesus’
statement, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” applicable to every problem except mental illness? Of course not.
As I hung our wedding photo back on the wall I whispered, “We have nothing left but You, Lord Jesus. Apart from You we have no marriage; but with You we’ve still got something worth preserving. Take this
broken, confused marriage. I place it into Your hands now. Only You have the power to make something beautiful out of it.”
God’s hands are a place of loving intervention.
Again and again in Scripture I read that God’s mighty hand is outstretched toward us. David wrote, “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my
powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me” (Ps. 18:16-17).
“You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn” (Ps. 18:35-36).
“If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand” (Ps. 37:23-24).
In addition to a very troubled marriage, I found that the problems of parenting three teens and two young adults were often overwhelming. How I longed to be able to consult my husband! What should I do when I woke up at two in the morning to find my daughter hadn’t yet returned from work that ended at midnight? When the phone rang and a stranger told me my seventeen-year-old son had been in a car accident over a thousand miles from home, and I knew he didn’t have enough money for repairs…. and I had no way of contacting him? When my young daughter was traveling somewhere between Europe and Asia and I hadn’t heard from her for a month! When my child became involved in what I felt was a damaging relationship”!
Fear for my children robs me of sleep and threatens to possess me. It makes me want to control. It distorts reality. But reality always includes God-my child can never go beyond the reach of our loving Father’s outstretched hand. David knew this: “If we rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Ps. 139:9-10).
But what if my child doesn’t want to hold God’s hand? What if my child wants to go his own way? When these fearful questions bombard me, I remember this incident: When my children were young, I would escort them across a dangerous street. Foolishly, my child would tug at my firm handhold and mutter, “Let go of me. I can do it myself.” As a responsible parent, would I let go of his hand right in the middle of
that busy street, or would I hold on even tighter until we were safely across to the other side? Of course I would see him safely across before relinquishing his hand. Can I not credit God, who is an even more attentive Parent than I am, with the same amount of common sense?
In each scripture I read I was comforted to know that God takes the initiative. He takes the first move. Even when we are not looking for help, His hand is outstretched toward us.
God’s hands are a place of safety.
Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand”
While I’m writing this, our daughter Lisa is in China. My active mind conjures up all sorts of threats to her safety. When this happens I visualize her in the palm of God’s hand, covered by the nail-scarred hand of our Savior. Could there be a safer place for her!
God’s hands are a place of discipline.
Knowing that our loved ones are in God’s lands does not preclude harm befalling hem. Real life means that “bad things do happen to good people,” even to people who pray and believe in God. Job knew that.
When his wife complained bitterly about God and what had befallen their family, Job answered her this way: “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10, KJV).
As long as we live on planet Earth, trouble and calamities will be a part of our lives. But God thoughtfully, lovingly censors them. He intends that everything that happens to us ultimately works for good in our lives. “Though he [God] brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men” (Lam. 3:32-33).
Sometimes trouble or hardship is an indication that the hand of God is on our lives. David writes,
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”- and you forgave
the guilt of my sin. Ps. 32:3-5
When the pressures of life threaten to unnerve me, I sometimes say to myself, The pressure I feel right now is but the squeeze of God’s hands on my life as He’s shaping me. There is a scriptural basis for this:
“0 Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Is. 64:8).
God’s hands are a place of fulfillment.
“You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it-as it is today” (2 Chron. 6:15).
“Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all” (1 Chron. 29:12).
“The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing” (Ps. 145:15-16).
Trying to make some sense out of the pain in my life, I wrote a book about my journey with God. I thought perhaps it would encourage other struggling Christians. Throughout the months it took to write the book,
I saw many answers to prayer. Even after I’d sent the manuscript to the publisher, I received affirmation: “We like it. We’re sending it on to the next committee for approval.”
Throughout the months of waiting, I kept reminding God, “It’s in Your hands now. I trust You to do the impossible.”
The day of decision finally came. I’d hoped the mail would bring an official looking envelope; instead I received a familiar parcel. As I held my carefully written manuscript in my hands I could scarcely read
the accompanying letter. My book had been rejected! It felt as if my dreams and hard work had been scrunched up and tossed into a waste basket. Is this what happens to things you leave in God’s hands? Are
his hands the graveyard of broken dreams and frustrated ambitions?
After the initial shock and disappointment wore off, I asked more questions: What am I doing when I leave something in the hands of another? Am I not taking my own hands off? Am I not saying, “Here, I trust you with this; do what you think is best”?
I was not shrugging off my responsibilities when I gave them to God. Not at all. I was actually practicing this biblical principle: “In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge him [God] and he will direct
and make straight and plain your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6, Amplified).
I began to see that committing my concerns into God’s hands acknowledged my helplessness and my dependence on God. This put me in the right frame of mind for God to guide me into appropriate action.
Then I could do something, but only at the proper time.
This realization led me to a deeper acceptance of my husband and a calmer attitude toward our marriage relationship; to greater understanding of each of our children and their needs for independence
and support; and to greater courage to keep on writing and sending my work to publishers.
My friend who so often counseled me to “Leave it in God’s hands” has gone to heaven. I wonder what he would say if he could see how wonderfully God has restored my marriage; how my children are growing
and developing into beautiful adults; how many of my articles have been published and read by people all over the world. In all of this God has worked above and beyond my husband’s and my expectations. But then, my friend, who endured so many of life’s ambiguities while experiencing so much of God’s faithfulness in the midst of them, knew that whatever committed into God’s hands is in safe keeping.
(The above material was published by the DISCIPLESHIP JOURNAL, 19930
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