Lance column: In line for a cure?
A line begins to take shape outside the health clinic hosted by my church. It is still several hours before the doors open and the uninsurable jockey for position, hoping that they will be among the few that will be seen by one of the Christian doctors who volunteer each Thursday.
If you arrive too late to secure your spot, it may be another week before your symptoms are seen by a health care professional! The number needing attention can’t be served by the number available to help.
Like many, I don’t understand all the finer points of health care reform. Today, I just see a line of people who took a gamble that on this humid Thursday night someone may be there to treat them.
I am glad they came to the church to find healing. As I look at the line of those needing what I take for granted, I wonder if people of faith really understand how important it is that the desperately ill find a destination that will deliver the care they need. Somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten that it wasn’t governments or philanthropists who became involved in health care.
It was Jesus. Throughout the gospels, you find Jesus healing people and I suspect he healed many others whose symptoms were never recorded. This example tells me the Good Shepherd would want his followers to make health care an ongoing concern for our faith communities.
How do people of faith reinvest and reclaim the healing ministry Jesus established? It begins when we respect life, whether it’s rich or poor, neighbor or stranger. It continues as people of faith perform the obvious … we pray for the sick, believing that God uses delivery systems to cure which can be both mysterious and scientific. Such praying is informed by a level of openness to how one’s illness affects our neighbor’s life and self-worth.
If we are to reclaim our place in the church’s healing ministry, people of faith can make the health of others not just a spiritual concern but one worth investing our energies in practical efforts. We assist those who are convalescing at home or offer to care for children with ailing parents. We can find constructive ways to support the community clinics that offer healing to the needy.
Finally, in the present discussion about regarding health care, people of faith can respectfully disagree over the means but agree on the goal stated by the great physician: “Whatever you do to the least of these you have done it unto me.”
Jesus’ words haunt me as I drive past the next line taking shape outside the church; I won’t be so quick to consider the sick as someone’s problem.
Who knows? It may be me one Thursday standing there hoping that the resources of the faithful will stretch far enough to heal this package which houses a soul loved by God.
Dr. Kenneth Lance is pastor of First Baptist Church in Salisbury.