In his memoir, On Writing, Stephen King expresses an aversion to adverbs. He does so unequivocally (sorry, Mr. King), saying, “F…k adverbs!” I read Mr. King’s book as an assignment for a class called Writing for Teachers and sadly the only thing I have retained is this colorful phrase about a certain part of speech minding its own business in sentences I had previously written. Thanks to Mr. King, now every time I attach an -ly to an unsuspecting verb or adjective, I hear his two-word pronouncement.
There is one adverb, however, which I don’t take exception to. It’s sprinkled throughout the gospel accounts and most often refers to the level of compassion Jesus had with the lame, the sick, the fearful, the oppressed.
When Peter was sinking into the waves, having tried to walk on water, Jesus immediately reached out his hand to save him.
A leper came up to Jesus asking for a miracle. Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him and immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
When Jesus came to the disciples walking on the sea of Galilee, he immediately eased their terror, saying, “Do not fear. It is I.”
He rebuked the fever of Peter’s mother in law, and immediately she rose from her bed healed and fever-free.
He gave the blind their sight. He raised the dead. He healed the legs of those who had never taken a step. Immediately.
When do we need such immediacy? Well, pretty much all the time.
I once read about a woman who literally extended one arm, as if to reach out to Jesus for help. She did this to remind herself that Jesus was present and in control. Her sense of peace was immediate. We can do the same. At a gravesite or in a car; before a presentation or when we are just plain lonely. Or when we are sinking into vicious waves.
His help is immediate. The waves may not cease and the dead may not rise. But the hand of Jesus sustains us.
Again, with apologies to Stephen King.