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You've heard the chant of protesters across America -- "hands up, don't shoot!" For them, that phrase is a statement of dissatisfaction with what they perceive as injustice. But, people put their hands in the air for numerous reasons. People raise their hands in a celebratory gesture at football games or concerts. Some raise their hands in the air as an act of worship or praise in church. This past week, we saw civilians who had been held hostage by a gunman in a cafe in Sydney, Australia, raise their hands in the air as they escaped to indicate to police officers that they were not a threat.
Perhaps you have thrown your hands in the air in frustration. Jewish rabbis raise their hands when giving the benediction. "Jazz hands" are often used while dancing. Some people raise their hands with palms facing inward when they are trying to express that they don't understand something. In France, you can raise your arm and rotate your hand back and forth to let someone know that you are unhappy with their driving. In Germany, people often clasp their hands together and raise them above their heads to express gratitude. In Russia and former Soviet countries, it is customary to raise your hand in a fist above your head and shake it to express anger. And, of course, we all know that you can raise your hand and wave it in order to say "hello" or "goodbye."
It's clear that what we do with our hands can express many messages. But, perhaps, the most important thing we can express by raising our hands is surrender -- not only surrender to police and other human authorities, but to God. The writers of the Bible tell us that they raised their hands to demonstrate that they were surrendering to God's will, that they were leaning on Him, and that they were trusting in Him.