Different Emphases

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well;
the Lord will raise them up.
If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other
so that you may be healed.

James 5:15-16   (New International Version)
Her faith status was recorded on the hospice notes as: ‘Church of England – important’. We'll call her Lillian. She was a 65-year-old single woman who 20 years earlier had developed a hereditary disease causing muscle weakness. It had progressed so that she had been confined to bed for 15 years. She shared a bedroom with, and was cared for by her sister. 18 months earlier Lillian developed breast cancer which she knew had now spread to the bones, with significant, but well-controlled pain. Although she was reassured by her doctors to the contrary, she anticipated she would be dying imminently. She was admitted to the hospice, partly to give her sister a break, and partly to provide additional support to Lillian herself. 
She remained stable and pain diminished. Steps were taken during the admission to improve her care at home so that she would be able to sit out in a chair for part of the day.
I heard she had been very disturbed by overhearing conversations with a patient opposite her. She too had widespread breast cancer. A pastor had visited and, in keeping with her own faith tradition, he had spoken with her. He had urged further confession of sin and acceptance of the blood of Jesus for cleansing and healing. He had left a book entitled: ‘Cancer Can Be Healed’.
My conversation with Lillian went something like this as the nurse and I stopped at her bedside on the weekly round:
‘I hear you’ve had a disturbed night.’
‘Indeed I have; all this talk about blood and the cross. It shouldn’t happen here in a public place.’
‘I’m sorry it’s disturbed you, but we try to respect all variations of faith and no faith here. Would you like us to ask her to make sure it doesn’t happen again?’
‘No, that wouldn’t be right.’
After a short pause Lillian asked: ‘Do you believe this – that you can be healed if you only confess your sin, and ask for the blood of Jesus to touch you?’ 
‘Well the suffering of Jesus means a lot to me,' I replied, 'In fact it’s a central part of my own faith. But as important to me is to know that the risen Jesus can be at our side, even when we face the most difficult experiences of uncertainty, weakness and pain. We have to believe that too, and can ask him to be with us.’
‘Oh, that makes me feel so much better. Please will you just hold my hand.'
A minute later Lillian smiled and withdrew her hand. 
‘Thank you. I feel more relaxed about it now. But I still wish it would happen quickly.’
‘He’ll know the time. It’s obviously not quite yet,’ was my response.
She sighed and whispered back: ‘Probably not. I’ll try to be patient.’
Lillian and Jenny were discharged home. Both were a little better. Their disease continued; I suspect the different emphases and interpretation of a verse of scripture did too.