Several Scriptures describe the hand of God moving and guiding people (1 Samuel 5:11; 2 Chronicles 30:12; Job 19:21; 27:11; Ecclesiastes 2:24; 9:1). These passages do not mean that God literally has a hand. The Bible declares that God is spirit (John 4:24), that He does not, in His essence, have a physical form. However, this does not mean that God is incapable of taking on a physical form; numerous times in Scripture God does take a physical form. The hand of God is not speaking of a literal body part. Rather, just as a father lovingly guides and patiently disciplines a child with his hand, so are we guided by the hand of God.
The moving of the hand of God seems to be one area in which the saying “hindsight is 20/20” is particularly true. Often when we are going through a difficult or confusing time, we are unaware of how God is guiding us. Years later it becomes very clear why God brought us through that experience the way He did. Looking back, the hand of God can be clearly seen moving, guiding, protecting, etc. A time of trial is rarely enjoyable. At the same time, there are many instances where a trial or struggle is looked upon as the most meaningful spiritual time in a person’s life. This is why James exhorts us to “consider it pure joy” (James 1:2) when we encounter various trials, because they are immensely valuable to our spiritual lives.
How can we better recognize the hand of God moving in our lives? First, we must familiarize ourselves with God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17), which tells us about who God is and what He does. Similar to how an instruction manual helps us to understand a particular device, so reading God’s Word helps us to understand how God works and how we should respond to Him. Second, we must communicate with God through prayer. We can ask God for wisdom (James 1:5). We can ask God to help us recognize, and submit to, His hand. We can thank Him for how His hand has guided us. We can ask Him to help us learn His lesson, in His time, for whatever time His hand is bringing us through.
Third, we must trust God. Just as a son often rebels against the guidance of his father—not trusting his judgment or not accepting his discipline—so do we often fight against the hand of God: "Why did You allow this? Why must I do that? Is there not another way?" While it is not wrong to ask these questions in a spirit of humility, it is wrong to doubt God’s goodness or the quality of His plan. Many times in our lives, we make an ordeal worse by not trusting and obeying God and by not quickly learning the intended lesson.
The hand of God is a symbol of God’s guidance, instruction, and discipline. The more we recognize the hand of God, the better we will be able to follow His lead. Through the study of God’s Word, a strong prayer life, and an abiding trust in God, we can learn to recognize, trust, and enjoy the hand of God moving in our lives.