Touch is one of those things that we likely take for granted. Yet, touch is very important to everyday life. Several years ago, Philip Yancey and Dr. Paul Brand wrote a book entitled “Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants.” It is largely a biography of Dr. Brand who pioneered both the diagnosis and prognosis of leprosy. He discovered that leprosy occurs because of a lack of feeling – an inability to sense touch. The delicate nerve endings we all have in our fingers and toes are numb to the leper. The lack of sensing pain in the extremities leads to small cuts or injuries, which would be immediately treated by someone who feels pain, becoming gangrene with the losing of fingers and toes.
When it comes to the spiritual and the emotional, the ability to feel is vitally important. A calloused unfeeling heart and soul does not realize the damage that is being done to it. One of the greatest gifts we have as people is the ability to feel guilt, sorrow, disappointment, and pain – it is actually a gift. It brings about attention to prayer and addressing the situation. In Luke’s Gospel account, Elizabeth was a godly woman who was sensitive to God. She was the wife of Zechariah the priest, and came from a family of priests. Elizabeth was also old and childless. She believed her opportunity to be a mother was gone forever, and it pained her (Luke 1:5-25, 39-45).
But God specializes in the impossible, and Elizabeth became pregnant with John the Baptist. My wife and I are definitely past the child bearing years. If my wife became pregnant right now it would really be a miracle. But, when I think about it, the real miracle might not be a conception but in having the strength and energy to raise a newborn, a toddler, and make it through the tweener and teen-age years!
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the niece of Elizabeth. As soon as Mary approached Elizabeth, the baby within Elizabeth did not just move but leaped in her womb (Luke 1:41). Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit – she felt the touch of Jesus. Jesus touched Elizabeth’s life in ways she could never have dreamed. Jesus changed her life. Elizabeth was never the same after encountering this miraculous touch. She knew great joy because she first knew great pain and sorrow.
How has the touch of Jesus impacted your life? As great as Elizabeth’s story is, and your story and my story, it really only points to a much larger and even more significant story: the birth of Jesus and its significance. All of our stories have meaning because of Jesus Christ. Jesus is what made Elizabeth’s story such a great one. Elizabeth’s response to being touched by Jesus was joy, thanksgiving, and blessing. She blessed the whole thing. To be “blessed” is to have God’s stamp of approval on your life. There is an emotional component to the word. It is to be happy. In other words, to recognize God’s grace and goodness through his merciful approval results in the response of being happy and joyous.
How has Jesus touched you? What is your story? How has that touch changed your life? How, in response, have you touched Jesus and blessed his heart? All of our stories are still being written. Our lives aren’t over yet. We still have the opportunity of using our lives in a way that will bless the heart of Jesus. Having the courage and boldness to share our story with another, even in a church setting, has the possibility of not only affirming your own faith, but impacting someone else’s faith, as well. May we believe that what the Lord has said will be accomplished in us.