We are hard-wired for touch. All the latest brain-imaging research just validates what we’ve known for a long time: we need loving touch. A baby’s first and strongest response is to touch. They will grab onto a finger in their earliest moments before they even respond to a sight or hearing stimulus. Children lean into someone who is reading them a story. Kids wrestle with siblings, get into tickle fights, and stand with their arms raised demanding “up!” as one of their earliest sentences. Instinctively, our bodies and brains drive us to seek out touch.

Have you ever noticed Jesus was a “toucher?” In numerous examples in Scripture, we see Jesus touching people as He cared for them: as He healed the leper (Matthew 8:3); as He comforted His disciples when they were afraid at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:7); as He healed the lopped-off ear of the servant in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:51); and as He blessed and prayed over children and babies (Matthew 19:13-14).

And you just know that when Jesus was telling the crowd that they had to become “like this little child” in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Mark 9:36-37 NLT), He was scooping that kiddo close to His side. He certainly didn’t need to touch people in order to heal them—we’ve got lots of stories of Him healing people while at a great distance. And, of course, He could have just commanded His disciples to “fear not” at the Transfiguration. But He reached out His hand in compassion and reassurance and touched them. Loving touch is its own gentle language of compassion, empathy, and comfort. It says, “I’m with you. We are together. You are not alone in this.”

Loving touch also releases the neuro-hormone oxytocin—the “cuddle” hormone—which reduces the stress hormone cortisol. And let’s face it, in these stressful COVID-19 days, cortisol levels are really high. Blood pressures are up, patience is down. We need a good dose of oxytocin! Just when we most need loving touch and connection—to feel the “with-ness” of each other—we are in isolation and lockdown. Many are experiencing the loss of physical touch. Social distancing and rubber gloves have created a very real “touch hunger” for many people. A deep ache for connection and comforting touch. Because we are hard-wired by God for it.

ACTION:  Pour yourself a cool glass of water and set it on a table nearby. Read Psalm 63 slowly several times. Allow yourself to imagine the barrenness of the place in which David found himself. Without companionship. Without the comforting touch of another. What do you notice in your own emotions and body as you read David’s words of longing in the isolation of his desert experience? Where are you missing touch today? Perhaps you are single, living alone. Perhaps touch doesn’t feel safe or comforting in your life. As you take a sip of the cool water, ask God to bring refreshment, to bring His healing and comforting touch to the untouched places in your soul today.


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