“No hugs today,” Laura said as she stepped back from my outstretched arms. “I’ve got a cold.” Laura proceeded to turn around and we shoulder-bumped, laughing like school girls.
You know what? That shoulder bump felt just as good as a hug. It provided connection, silly as it was.
Research shows that physical touch actually causes a number of health benefits. Lowered blood pressure and cortisol levels are two positive outcomes, which in turn reduce stress. In addition, the hormone, oxytocin, is released, creating a sense of well-being. Studies have also shown that touch eases asthma symptoms and migraines. The power of touch even impacts the quality of a person’s sleep.
And it’s not just hugs. Many different types of touch suffice. Of course, loving hugs from family members or friends would certainly be at the top of the list. But a squeeze around the shoulders, even a touch on the arm can have a positive influence, creating happiness and joy in our spirits.
In 2006, a research study determined we can accurately communicate a number of emotions through touch alone, including: anger, fear, disgust, love, gratitude, and sympathy. The study involved total strangers using touches on the forearm. No words, no body language, no facial expressions. Just touch.
There is power in human touch.
There is even greater power in the touch of God. Have you felt it?
Perhaps you’ve heard a sermon and the minister seemed to be speaking directly to you. That’s God’s hand on your shoulder, communicating encouragement. “You, see, child? This is the way that will take you forward.”
Perhaps you’ve been overcome with emotion at the sight of sunbeams breaking through rose-hued clouds. That’s God enveloping you in a loving hug, saying, “This gift is for you. I do love you, child.”
Perhaps while reading the Bible, a particular truth has stood out. And as you began to apply the principle, change occurred—not necessarily in your circumstances, but in your attitude and ability to cope. A quiet sense of joy pervaded your spirit. That’s God squeezing your shoulder, infusing confidence, and saying, “Well done! Press on!”
Perhaps tears have welled up in your eyes as you’ve sung to God a praise song from your heart. Peace enveloped you. That’s his hand tracing your brow with comfort as he says, “My peace I give you…do not be afraid” (John 14: 27). “Let my joy be complete in you” (John 15:11).
“What a wonderful thing to be touched in the heart by God…When the heart is touched, the core of our being is touched.” – John Piper
Have you ever heard someone gush about shaking hands with a dignitary or celebrity? Many people place great importance on the value of such a touch.
Now think of being touched by the sovereign King of the universe . The all-powerful, all-wise, always loving and kind God reaches out to touch each of our hearts.
Incredible, isn’t it?
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Thank you, Father, for the power of your touch that offers peace and comfort, encouragement and support, strength and confidence. Thank you for coming so close, so frequently, to touch our spirits. I thrill with adoration and gratitude every time!