A Withered Hand

reach out your hand

I wrote this ten years ago, and posted it last year on this blog. When I wrote it, all 7 of our children were still at home, and I was homeschooling 5 of them. I had just discovered I have ADD. I’m re-posting it now, because it has a new meaning for me… as I will explain in an upcoming post.

A Withered Hand

The man with the withered hand had a problem. Jesus told him to stretch forth his hand. But he was not capable of stretching that hand because it was crippled. And yet the Lord told him to do it. How could he do it? There was inherent in the command the knowledge that he could do it in Christ. Until that moment he could not have done it. Without Christ he could not have done it. In Christ he could, and must, because he was commanded to by Christ who enabled him the moment he agreed in his spirit to make a move. And only when he did take that step of faith did Christ heal his hand.

When I heard that, I could not take it in. I still can’t. But it is as true of me as it was of the man with the withered hand.

I am handicapped in many ways by sin and the deception of my wicked heart. I know what needs to be done to make the necessary changes in my life, but lack the grit to see that it does. I have great powers of resolution but no staying power. I make a plan and follow it for one day and then it fizzles out. Anything and everything can get in the way. Most of all I won’t do it unless I feel like it. Not a pretty picture.

It’s very difficult to establish any consequences for lack of performance by my children. If people don’t get up at the same time in the morning, we can’t all have breakfast together. Chores get confused because are these breakfast dishes or lunch?? I can’t stay on top of schoolwork and chores because one person got up at 6, is done schoolwork and chores by noon and is now legitimately on the computer, whereas the other one on the computer has barely started his or her schoolwork. I continually run into trouble getting after the wrong person for not doing a given chore–and the next time I don’t say anything because I don’t notice, and it doesn’t get done until the next day. Anyway, once the bedtime is established, it will pave the way for getting a lot of other things in place.

Can’t, can’t, can’t. My mom used to say, “‘Can’t’ isn’t in the dictionary!” A friend tells me I am not as helpless as I like to think I am. The truth is, I tell myself I can’t because I have a history of failure. But if it is a command of God, then I can do it, in Christ. It doesn’t matter that I have ADD or that I am afflicted by many weaknesses and temptations common to man. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. He is my enabler. I need only agree with Him, and obey.

In family worship one Sunday evening, Ian talked about Moses’ rod and brass serpent, and how it is a picture of Christ, as anyone who looked at it in faith would be healed of the fiery serpent bites. Andrew asked what happened if someone was blind… how could he look at the serpent? Some people might answer by saying either one of two things might have happened… God might say, “You sinned, and you can’t see the serpent, therefore you die!” Or He might have mercy on the man and save him anyway.

I don’t think it was physically “seeing” the serpent that counted, but rather the intent of the heart, the act of faith in looking toward the serpent as if he could see it, in obedience to the Lord. The man could have said, “I can’t!” and not even bother to try, and the Lord might then have said, “Too bad for you then!” But if he did what was commanded despite his inability, I believe the Lord would still use his faith as the means for healing him.

The picture that came to my mind was that of the man with the withered hand. Christ told him to stretch forth his hand. I will never forget Paul Maxwell at Prairie telling us the man couldn’t stretch forth his hand without the the Lord’s enabling. But Christ commanded him to do it without the enabling. The man could have said, “I can’t!” And the Lord could have said, “Goodbye then.” Instead the man made as if to stretch forth his hand despite his inability, and Christ rewarded his faith by giving him the necessary enabling, and healed him.

ADD is a handicap that keeps me from doing all that is required of me as a mother, and as a Christian. But the very fact that those things are required of me by God is an indication that in Him I can do it, if I look to Him for strength and clarity of mind. I don’t expect Him to heal me the way He did the man with the withered hand, but the principle is the same. Do what I can to minimize the counts against me and develop my natural strengths, and look to Him to enable me to honour and obey Him by paying attention in church. And no, I don’t expect to do it as well as the average person, but I do expect to see a significant improvement.

© 2006 Willena Flewelling


  1. Willena,

    I love this post. Today I have been feeling that “I can’t”, that I have taken on too much, I am not organized enough, there is too much to do and too little time, etc.

    That image of stretching my weak hand and trusting that God will assist me if I can’t see or I actually do have the needed strength and God will just stay back and watch me stretch my hand.

    Your writing has been prolific – and so easy and enjoyable to read.


    Dr. Erica
    Dr. Erica Goodstone recently posted…Your Marketing Style – Could It Use A Tweak?My Profile

    • Thank you, Dr. Erica. I’m glad it helped! I’m not so prolific as I used to be. For this blog, I’ve been “borrowing” from things I’ve written in the past, until I can get to the place where I’m writing freely on a daily basis again.
      Willena Flewelling recently posted…The Broken AirplaneMy Profile

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