I am the LORD your God. I am holding your hand, so don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.
(Contemporary English Version)
I remember during childhood that as the youngest of three children, oftentimes when we were out playing, I wanted to hold someone’s hand, especially if we went into the woods around our house or if it grew dark from a brewing storm.
The touch of another hand always seemed to help me feel more at peace and less afraid.
I will never forget that as an adult, the feeling of needing to hold someone’s hand came back to me as I traveled on an outing with the Scouting group.
We had gone to Rock City and Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, Tenn., where my family had gone when I was a child.
This time, however, we went to the underground falls, not just to see the cool rock formations on top of the mountain.
As we walked deeper and deeper inside the mountain, down the narrow underground trails, I remembered what it was like to walk down the same trail as a child.
Suddenly in those dark, damp caves, all of those feelings of fear came back to me as I reached for a hand to hold.
Where many years before my dad had held my hand, now my comforting hand was that of my son.
Isn’t it funny how being in a certain place can transport us back in time — at least emotionally — to places that were significant for us as children? This past January, I was blessed to go on a trip to Honduras, my first trip out of this country.
Surrounded by people who spoke a different language and didn’t really understand much of what I said in my best broken elementary school Spanish, I once again had that feeling of needing a hand to hold.
While I was shopping in a local market, I ran across a notebook in Spanish that had this verse from Isaiah:
"I am the Lord your God. I am holding your hand, so don’t be afraid. I am here to help you."
What a comfort to know that no matter where I go, in or out of the country, on top of or under the mountain, God is holding my hand, so I have no need to be afraid.
Sometimes when I go into hospital rooms or hospice situations to stare death squarely in the face, I remember this image of God holding my hand, and I often share the image and the verse with those I visit.
Death then becomes not an attacker but a bridge that we cross with our Lord, who holds our hand all the way home.
No matter what we face, God is our God, and with the creator of the universe holding our hand, we have no reason whatsoever to be afraid.
Where do you feel alone and afraid? Will you trust God to hold your hand and help you through whatever you face?
Rev. Jan McCoy is the associate pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at email@example.com.