The following text was written for the annual Lenten Devotional booklet created by the Chaplain’s Office at Cedarfield in Richmond, VA.

When I saw that this year’s Lenten Devotional theme was “healing,” I struggled with what to write about.  Should I explore the theme of healing in relation to disease and illness?  My family has a significant genetic disease.  My grandmother suffered from it.  Then my uncle died young from it, and my mother continues to struggle with it.  I’ve had genetic testing and know that I, too, will have this disease.   Healing would be most welcome in our family.  But I also know that countless people around the globe suffer from physical illnesses, from poverty, from war, from abuse… and every wish and prayer for healing is not granted.   

So… what should I write about?  What do I think of when I hear the word “healing”?  I thought about it for more than a week, and still I had no idea what to write about.  So as I sat down at my computer striving to meet the deadline to submit something, I decided to do a web search for the word HEALING to see what popped up.  Merriam-Webster was one of the first websites.  And the leading line was “149 Synonyms for HEALING.”   

What if I had asked you how many synonyms you could think of for the word HEALING?  I thought of “treatment,” “miracle,” “wholeness,” and 3 or 4 more words.  But there are 149 synonyms for HEALING in the thesaurus.  Wow!  149 synonyms for HEALING.  Maybe my understanding of HEALING is too small, too limited!   Maybe my family’s disease is a reality we have to live with in this world, but there are so many other ways to recognize and embrace healing and hope.  Maybe God gifts to me a special perspective or wisdom or sensitivity because of the family illness.  Maybe God brings to life things in me that couldn’t otherwise blossom and grow.  Maybe healing is more than the absence of a disease but rather the abundant life that fills me and allows me hope, joy, and love despite the details of a medical condition.   

As I move through this Lenten season, I now have a whole new way of looking at HEALING.  Synonyms like “renewing,” “revival,” “fortifying,” “restoring” have peaked my curiosity and awakened me to look at ways that God might be healing me even as I carry this gene.  May we all discover God’s HEALING in our lives, in the many, many (more than 149, no doubt!) ways that God shares it with us.  

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