We all, to some degree, are desperate in our search for comfort. How often do we strive to remove any struggle or inconvenience from our lives simply because we are uncomfortable? For me it can be trying to control my kids’ actions to achieve what’s best (in my eyes) for them to something as simple as not liking to put in the work to actually prepare and cook my food so I spend (way too much) money on gadgets I don’t need that add anxiety-inducing clutter to my home. But what if there was a way to bring comfort (while enduring the struggle) without needing to do any of these things?? Would you want to know more?
The other night, I sat in with my husband as he read a chapter of scripture with our kids: even though our kids are adults still in the home, this is something they do together before praying at bedtime. They are currently reading in Revelation and that night’s verse was from Revelation 1. In verses 17-18, John says “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one (emphasis mine).
It was late and my brain was shutting down for the night but still, for some reason, the phrase “he laid his right hand on me” struck me particularly. Life is hard. I feel busy but struggle to feel I accomplish anything of consequence. Yes, I have to remind myself often, during times when I begin to feel sorry for myself, how many people have many more serious difficulties than I. But, for anyone struggling, and lets be honest, we ALL do, we as believers can feel instant comfort at the thought of God placing his right hand on us. But what does that actually mean?
Before we dive further into scripture, I wanted to find the specific significance of the right hand in the bible. The Lexham Bible Dictionary says this about the right hand: References to the right hand in Scripture refer either literally to most people’s dominant hand or metaphorically to prominence and strength. In patriarchal blessings, the preferred blessing was given with the right hand (Gen 48:17–20). To speak of someone’s right hand is to speak of their power (Exod 15:6, 12; Pss 18:35; 20:6; 63:8; 98:1). To sit at someone’s right hand is to sit in the place of honor (Psa 45:9; 80:16; 110:1; Acts 2:33; Heb 1:3). In contrast, sitting at someone’s left side sometimes metaphorically indicates the place of disfavor (Matt 25:41). (1)
Clearly, references to the right hand in scripture hold significant importance. The book of Isaiah is written to God’s people as they rebelled against him and were taken into exile. In the middle portion of the book, God is comforting them about their current plight. In chapter 41, verse 10, the ESV states “…be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Aren’t we just like the people of Israel? We continuously rebel against God. We respond to his call of repentance only to rebel again in another, or maybe, in the same way? But God is relentless in his pursuit of us and comforts us in the process as we live out or own exile on this earth. Furthermore, Psalm 138:7 says “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.”