When I heard the news story today about the Mississippi child who was born with HIV and now, 2 1/2 years later, seems to be cured, I was very happy for researchers and others who have been working in the trenches to understand, treat and eventually erradicate HIV-AIDS. Of course, this one story is not conclusive, and much more work needs to be done. But it seems to be a step forward and must, I am sure, raise hopes even a little for anyone who is affected by this particular disease.
The story also made me consider a bit more the notion of “cure” as it relates to people of faith who live with ongoing illness and pain of any kind. So many chronic conditions are incurable, that is, they might ebb and flow, but they will not go away. And yet, in the bible and throughout time, there have been people who have been cured of their affliction. Our Lord cured many, and so did the apostles. Many saints have been canonized in the Catholic church on the basis of miraculous cures worked in their name. I have met people (not many, but a few) who have professed to being cured through prayer, either individual or collective.
What does this mean for those of us who still live with illness? Does it mean God refuses to cure us? Does it mean that we are not faithful enough? Or, does it mean something else?
God being God, He can cure any of us at any time. I really do believe that. But I also believe that for some, He intends another path, a difficult path, but one graced with many blessings for the willing journeyer. Life with illness or pain is both a vocation and a ministry, and those engaged in it would probably not be able to do what they do for the Kingdom and for others if they didn’t have very real, ongoing health challenges. In this regard, then, life becomes not so much about waiting for the cure, as it is about being constantly about God’s work, whatever that may be. It is also about showing others that, no matter what their suffering might be, God is ever-present and ever-loving with and in spite of it all.
Much like being friends only with like-minded people, it would be very easy to praise a God who cured everyone and let no one suffer. But it is deeper and more grace-filled to praise a God who gave us Jesus to suffer and die and rise again for us – and who shows us each day that it is possible to live, love, and grow in the spirit no matter what burdens we carry along the way.
Blessings for the day,