God wounds, but he binds up; he strikes, but his hands heal. Job 5:18
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7
I’m not certain she was a glad hander: the girl on the bus when I was in 6th grade who told me I was cute. I suspect she may have been sincere, but she could have been after an invitation to come to have a swim in our new swimming pool at the motel my mom and dad owned, and at which we were living at the time.
I did have one cool shirt at that time. It was the kind that had a little loop of matching material at the top of a pleat in the back. We called it a “fruit loop”. But to this day I don’t really know what that meant. Girls would yank them off boys’ shirts as a sort of trophy. I think I had a fruit loop shirt on that day. She may have wanted to gain the trophy. I suspect she might attribute it to some really cool guy. But I digress.
Glad handers – at least those who are good at it – have a way to sound so sincere and reassuring. I would never doubt a glad hander’s motive. One such a man was a business associate of my dad. He gave me a really cool looking (emphasis on “looking”) watch one day. He said we were really good folks, but he was really saying he was a good man. His actions were not to make me or my dad feel good. They were to make us feel indebted.
What if, however, you have a true friend who will risk hurting your feelings for the benefit of your betterment. This is the one who will never pull a punch. He’ll give it to you straight. He is the friend whose wounds can be trusted (cf. Proverbs 27:6).
Better, even, than a friend who wounds is our God. Sometimes his words and the truth he brings to our minds and hearts are difficult to hear. Sometimes they hurt. Sometimes they expose things we would rather keep hidden. But he exposes only to heal. He brings to light only to disinfect.
Sometimes we bridle under the heavy hand of correction. Some people will learn only the very, very hard way. Some will resist to their own peril. Some kick against the goads (cf. Acts 26:14). They are wise who will humble themselves under God’s mighty but healing hand. For he exalts. He lifts up what cannot be toppled. He strengthens those who align themselves with his will.
I have been tempted on occasion to force God’s hand. I’ve been known to seek to get my will at nearly all costs. In kindness and love God has stood in my path and redirected me to his ways which are far better, and of eternal blessing. Perhaps I should do that more often.