If you’re not connected with a church body right now, let me encourage you to find us on Facebook at Petersburg First Baptist Church. It’s not like, you know, gathering in person to fellowship and worship with other live human beings, but we hope to give you an online place to find encouragement and hope and life in Christ Jesus as we seek to comply with the new “rules” of the day.
You can also watch our worship services on YouTube by searching Petersburg IL FirstBaptist Church and look us up on our website at fbcpetersburgIL.org.
If I knew for sure that I was not a carrier of COVID-19, I would stand on the square and offer free handshakes and hugs to anyone in need. There’s a personal connection through touch that just feels good and is important to our well-being.
On the website healthline.com, scientists offer seven benefits of hugging. Similar findings are published online in Time, Psychology Today, and WebMD, but here’s what I found first in my quick research project.
1. Hugs reduce stress by showing your support. When we’re going through a difficult or painful experience, a comforting hug reduces the stress.
2. Hugs may protect you against illness. In one study, participants with a greater support system were less likely to get sick, and those who did had less severe symptoms than those who didn’t.
3. Hugs may boost your heart health. Reductions in blood pressure and heart rate have been discovered in a study related to holding hands and hugging with a romantic partner.
4. Hugs can make you happier. Maybe you’ve heard of the “cuddle hormone” Oxytocin, a chemical in our bodies associated with happiness and less stress. Scientists say its level rises when we hug or touch or sit close to someone.
5. Hugs help reduce your fears. In people with low self-esteem, scientists have found that touch can reduce anxiety.
6. Hugs may help reduce your pain. In a study of people with fibromyalgia, participants were given six therapeutic touch treatments, reporting an increase in quality of life and reduced pain.
7. Hugs help you communicate with others. You probably don’t need a scientific study to know that!
And the more you can get, the greater the effects.
One of the hallmarks of Jesus’ ministry was His healing touch.
He touched the leper and cleansed him. He touched the hand of Peter’s mother-in-law and the fever left her. He touched the eyes of the blind and gave them sight. He even put His fingers in the ears of the deaf man with a speech impediment, and “after spitting touched his tongue” (Mark 8:33), and the man’s ears were opened and his tongue released. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend trying this at home.
And, of course, Jesus took up the children in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands on them (Mark 10:13-16).
Please don’t mis-hear me saying that we should ignore wisdom in the midst of a pandemic virus, but let’s not forget the value of the human touch. And if you’re in need of healing, Jesus offers the touch of His saving hand to you, free of charge.