Called to Be Healers

December 17th, 2011

One of the most hotly debated issues during the last presidential campaign was health care reform. Though they disagreed on how to make sure that Americans receive the care they need, both candidates had plans for making health care coverage more accessible.

There are millions of people without health insurance or with poor health insurance who would like some new options; there also are millions of people who are happy with the insurance they have and have reservations about any policy that would change the nation's health care landscape. Some people are happy with the insurance provided by their employers but worry about what will happen if they lose their jobs. Private insurers want legislation that will allow them to remain competitive; patients' rights advocates want to make sure that patients and their doctors are able to make health care decisions without interference from private insurers or the government; and advocates for the poor and chronically ill want to make sure that all people have access to good, affordable health care regardless of income level or pre-existing conditions.

The debate has been complicated by exaggerations and falsehoods from both sides. Questionable claims about the cost, what the plan does and does not cover, and the program's effect on current public and private insurance plans have circulated on the Internet and have dominated recent town hall meetings held by members of Congress. These distortions have made it difficult for citizens and policymakers to make decisions on what benefits and services Americans need and desire.

Christians need to look beyond these distortions and develop informed opinions about what is most important when it comes to health care in our country. Some faithful Christians believe that government-provided health care is the best way to meet people's needs; others believe that American health care benefits from minimal government involvement; most fall somewhere in between. But all Christians should agree that God calls us to be healers and to be mindful of others' needs. Healing miracles are prominent in Scripture, from Elisha's healing of Naaman (see 2 Kings 5:1-19) to Peter's healing of the crippled beggar (see Acts 3:1-10). Jesus commands his followers to care for the sick (see Matthew 25:34-40; Mark 6:7-13) and reminds us that sickness is not limited to physical ailments (see Mark 2:1-12, 15-17). People also need to be healed of sadness, temptation, and sin.

As persons of faith called to be healers, we can provide much-needed comfort to friends and peers who are suffering from injury, disease, addiction, depression, or grief. We can be listeners; we can send encouraging messages; and we can laugh or cry with people who need to express their emotions. Most importantly, we can pray. All of these actions are essential to the health of God's children.

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