“Please pray!” my panicked daughter said. A door at school smashed her four-year-old son’s hand, and he required surgery.
“You can count on it,” I assured her, wishing they lived closer than across the country so I could run right over. I wondered what saint I could ask to pray with me for Preston.
The next morning, the day’s reading was Jesus healing a man with a withered hand (Mark 3:1–6).
I put myself into the story and observed Jesus on the Sabbath, just like the Pharisees did. Would Jesus work a miracle? The man with the withered hand walked forward shyly, embarrassed to be the center of attention. My view was obstructed by the grate sectioning off the women’s area. As I contemplated the sights and smells of the synagogue, I wished I could get closer to Jesus and the man.
Just like you want to be near your grandson.
Not a servant girl any more in the scene, I became the grandmother, longing to step forward. The first-century synagogue morphed into a hospital as I prayed for Preston. I could imagine Jesus present with my grandson in the disguise of his doctor.
And it finally dawned on me that the man in the Gospel passage wasn’t an imaginary figure, but a brother in heaven. I could ask him to pray for my grandson! That man’s hand was strong, whole, and no longer withered. “Will you pray for my grandson’s crushed finger and ask Jesus to heal him?” I asked.
“Sure!” he might have replied.
I imagined hearing Jesus say, “Stretch out your hand.” I pictured Jesus, the man from the Gospel, and me standing with Preston.
“What was it like for you when you were healed?” I whispered to the man healed of a withered hand.
“I felt an itchy sensation, and I couldn’t help using my healthy hand to tug at my fingers to settle the tingling. It was as if my fingers re-knit themselves as I rubbed them.”
Having broken my arm more than once, I relate to the tingling sensation under a cast. I smiled and gave thanks to God. I continued praying with the image of Jesus as caring healer.
My grandson came through his surgery with flying colors. Months later his finger is as good as new. I know God is hearing my prayers every day, in jaw-dropping ways. Is God really that amazing: to give me a Gospel of the day that’s perfectly suited to my needs at prayer? Absolutely.
The Gospel doesn’t give the man with a withered hand a name. From now on, I think I’ll call him Preston.