In today’s Epistle reading, speaking of the gifts of the Spirit, Paul refers (v 9) to the gift of healing. The word ‘heal’ is related to ‘whole’, a connection that is preserved in the KJ Bible when a person is said to be ‘made whole’, as in Matt 15:28. There are many contexts where the Greek word that is translated ‘heal’ could also be translated by the word ‘cure’. But there are also contexts where there is much less overlap between these two words. These are contexts where healing at a deeper level than the body is in view, as in Matt 13:15 and Luke 4:18. The distinction drawn here is well brought out by Ann Lewin in her book Seasons of Grace where, speaking of her father, who was dying of cancer, she says that although there was no curing of his cancer – despite her intense prayers – and he died, there was healing, both in him as he found the courage to face his pain and the death that would follow, and in Ann and her family as they were able to show their love for him and their support for one another. As she says, healing at this level does not take one back to where one was before but takes one on to a new stage in one’s inner life. Part of Ann’s healing was to recognise that in her father’s case, his fullest healing would come through death. No doubt Paul has both curing and healing in this deeper sense in view in the spiritual gift referred to in v 9.
A Word in Season