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Lent Day 20: Care vs Cure

I am indebted to my friend Kent Hotling for these next few posts. He has been at this journey with Jesus a lot longer than I have, and put together some very helpful thoughts on the difference between Care and Cure. From Kent:

One of the difficulties in trying to be helpful to others lies in the complexity of our motives. We genuinely desire to help people. Often, however, we want our help to produce changes for the better in the people being helped. We also want to control the way our aid is used to make sure “change” is taking place.

“The word ‘care’ finds its roots in the Gothic Kara, which means lament. The basic meaning of care is ‘to grieve, to experience sorrow, to cry out with.” Out of Solitude by Henri J.W. Nouwen

“Care is something other than cure. Cure means ‘change.’ A doctor, a lawyer, a minister, a social worker –they all want to use their professional skills to bring about changes in people’s lives. They get paid for whatever kind of cure they can bring about. But cure, desirable as it may be, can easily become violent, manipulative, and even destructive if it does not grow out of care. Care is being with, crying out with, suffering with, and feeling with. Care is compassion. When care is our first concern, cure can be received as a gift. Often we are not able to cure, but we are always able to care.” Bread for the Journey by Henri J.W. Nouwen 102

“Giving, caring, concern, and love – no matter to whom we direct them – have to spring from Christ’s presence within us; otherwise we care because of the neurotic need to be needed, or a desire to be important to someone, or the longing to win approval.” Two Faces of Caring, Kristen Johnson Ingram

Thus, we are called to care for others, but God does not give us the power to cure others. “Cure” belongs to God:

· Psalm 46:1 ‑ God is the refuge in times of trouble.
· Psalm 103:1‑6 God is the healer of our spiritual, emotional and physical ills.
· Matthew 6:33 God is the one who meets our physical needs.

Care is our work and cure is God’s. When we try to do God’s work we fail because we do not have God’s power and we leave undone the part we are to do. A clearer delineation between what God is to do and what we are able to do releases us from the false guilt that is often present when we are unable to “fix” all the woes of the world.

Shawn: Oh that we might learn how to care for people and not try to cure (control) them.

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