I’ve always been captivated by hands. They tell so much of a person’s story. When I was a little girl, I would sit in my grandmother’s lap and study her beautiful hands. I’ve always wanted to have those hands—dainty, feminine hands with long, perfect fingernails—a lady’s hands. But last night when I looked down at my hands I felt a prick of shame.
About two and a half years ago I was driving home from church when I noticed that the tip of my right thumb had split. When I got home, I put a little Neosporin and a Band-Aid on it thinking that in a couple of days, it would be healed. But it wasn’t.
A week passed. Two weeks. A month. Six months. A year. It didn’t heal. Soon, other fingers were splitting. I would have as many as seven fingers bandaged at a time. The people that make the CVS-brand latex-free bandages were making a mint off of me. I tried every lotion, ointment, and salve that other people recommended—vitamins A and E, bag balm, udder cream, badger cream, and even Preparation H. But nothing gave me any relief. Every time I washed dishes, folded laundry, petted my dog, or worked in the yard, I could expect to bleed for it.
After over a year of suffering, I finally went to the dermatologist who confirmed what I already knew—the psoriasis that I’d had since I was a child had spread. When I was 11, I was diagnosed with psoriasis, but it wasn’t on my hands at all. It was on my elbows, my ankles, and my knees—all places that could be easily hidden most of the time. Throughout my life, I have medicated it, dressed to cover it, and mostly ignored it. But this time, it was somewhere I absolutely couldn’t hide it.
I joke about my hands. Yeah, I got in a fist fight with a blender and lost. Nah, really, it’s just leprosy. But as much as I joke with others, it’s really not a joke to me. My soft, pink hands with my carefully tended fingernails became inflamed, then turned scaly, then peeled and cracked. One of my few delicate, feminine features is gone, replaced with hideous, reptilian hands. And worst of all, after hundreds of dollars spent on doctors and medicines with very little relief, I’ve found that I can’t do a single thing to fix it.
Isn’t that just like what sin does to our hearts? Before we sin, our hearts are soft and pink and carefully tended. As we sin, our hearts become inflamed and infected. They peel and crack and hurt and bleed. Soon, our most prized feature is gone and replaced with something ugly and shameful. We are ashamed and try to hide, but no matter what ointment or Band-Aids or medicines we use, we really can’t do anything about it.
I can’t do anything to fix myself, but Jesus can. When Jesus appeared to His disciples after the resurrection in the Upper Room, He showed them His hands—His hands that bore the scars that set us free and healed us. Because of the scars on His hands, my sins are forgiven and my heart is healed. I don’t know what’s going to happen to my hands, but thank God I don’t have to wonder how to heal my heart.