When Ira Gillett, a missionary to East Africa, returned home to report on his activities overseas, he related an interesting occurrence. Repeatedly, Gillett had noticed how groups of Africans would walk past government hospitals and travel many extra miles to receive medical treatment at the missionary compound. He finally asked a particular group why they walked the extra distance when the same treatments were available at the government clinics. The reply: "The medicines may be the same but the hands are different.”
Hands belong to people and so there was something about the people at the missionary compound which made the Africans want to go there to get their treatment instead of the Government Clinic. Did those hands belong to people who were genuinely interested in showing kindness and concern to the people they helped? When I was a child I loved going to my grans for tea. Gran was a lady with a big heart. She was always interested in hearing about what I’d been doing; ‘how is school going?’ ‘what did you do at the weekend?’ Gran’s interest made me feel I was worth something, I had value. We can only speculate why those hands were so different which made the people walk the extra miles for their medicine. Perhaps the warmth and kindness with which they received the medicine gave them a sense of self-worth and self-respect they hadn’t received elsewhere.
To God our value is ten out of ten. Jesus showed people their value by giving them His time, even those mainstream society didn’t consider to be of any importance. His disciples got a little annoyed at times with people pestering Him, they tried to stop the children coming to see Him but Jesus told them off, He considered everyone, even little children, to be valuable.
We start 2023 with the hope of something new but during the first day may come trials and frustrations to squash our optimism; an illness, an argument, financial strain, a misguided remark by a colleague or friend. Just getting up to face more of the same can prove difficult. Our hopes and aspirations are threatened, even crushed. Our circumstances affect how we feel; why does this always happen to me? Feelings are hard to bear, we can squash them down and shut the lid tight or we may project them onto others in anger and bitterness; the unsuspecting lady at the checkout who gets the full force of our pent-up frustration because we couldn’t find the teabags. Feelings of guilt, embarrassment or injustice may mean we withdraw from those around us and society in general. Our self-worth takes a nosedive. Whatever it is that happens to us this year, in God’s eyes it doesn’t deplete our value, we start the year with an intrinsic value of ten out of ten and finish the year ten out of ten. If we really let this register, deep within our hearts and started living out our true worth this year we might become those ‘different hands’. Perhaps that should be our New Years challenge…..