In “Voices of Faith,” religious leaders answer readers’ questions.
Healing is not curing
Rabbi Mark Levin of Congregation Beth Torah, Overland Park, Kan.: Obviously people become sick, and eventually everyone dies. Not only sinners die, but the righteous succumb as well. Not only that, but often the wholly righteous suffer while sinners live happily. If God healed the faithful instantly, the righteous would live not only unblemished lives, but would endure much less suffering than others. Clearly, if God heals the faithful instantly, we have failed to discern who is truly righteous.
Healing is not the same as curing. Curing involves making the malady disappear. I have been healed of my asthma as it no longer seriously impacts my life, but I have not been cured. I may still suffer an attack under the right conditions. Healing must be spiritual as well as physical. A person who continues to suffer by worrying that a disease will recur has not been healed, even though that person may well be cured.
God uses human beings as agents in the world. I have certainly seen people cured of illnesses for unknown reasons, despite the medical arts and what doctors predicted. But more frequently God works through those trained in the healing arts to restore wholeness to a person’s being. While I believe in God’s curative and sustaining powers, I know also that God has implanted human intelligence and caring, the capacities to cure and heal, in the natural world.