My late wife endured a brutal chemotherapy regimen during her voyage with cancer, navigated by a compassionate staff of devoted nurses and technicians overwhelmed by an ocean of patients. Each week we’d enter the infusion room and wonder, Who doesn’t have cancer?

On one occasion, I overheard a nurse speaking with a patient just finishing her regimen, asking her how she planned to get home. Chemotherapy exhausts your whole body and mind, so patients need to arrange rides from family or friends for safety and comfort’s sake. The weakened patient replied she had no one to drive her and no money for a taxi or Uber, so she planned to take the bus. The nurse, nonplussed, pressed her for other options, but the patient demurred. She’d make do the best she could.

The pastor in me wanted to pivot and assist, but I didn’t have any cash on me and couldn’t abandon my own beloved. Didn’t the oncology center have travel vouchers? Weren’t volunteer systems or agencies available to come alongside cancer patients in dire situations? If so, the nurse didn’t mention any. I helplessly prayed, so wanting to do more, as the poor woman wobbled from the infusion room.

The costs of health care are staggering. I was blessed with ample insurance, so mind-boggling bills weightily descended upon me daily, only to then evaporate with my coverage into the ether. Economics, along with autonomy and availability, drives most every health care decision. Politics frame our decisions in binary terms of either human rights or consumer preferences. Health care policy features in every election cycle. Theologically, nothing transforms one’s prayer life like illness. Jesus cures some disease, but not all, pointing everyone instead toward the ultimate cure only resurrection provides.

In the meantime, Christians wrestle with ethics and earthbound economics. In this issue, Liuan Huska explores Christian responses and solutions to the morass of medicinal policy in America—from Obamacare and employer-based options to health care sharing ministries that try to pool faithful communities together to access care while controlling costs.

Among the chief Christian virtues is concern for the sick beyond ourselves and our own loved ones, and love for our neighbors and enemies. Huska challenges Christians to recapture a vision we once had for health care that contributes to shalom, the well-being of all society, not merely to our own good. Amid an oceanic pandemic, economic upheaval, turbulent politics, and sickening anxiety, we need calmed seas more than ever.

Daniel Harrell is editor in chief of Christianity Today. Follow him on Twitter @DanlHarrell.

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