Assurance: to make pain and grief less; to ease and relieve patients with a positive thought.

I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and attended the great Concord Baptist Church, where I listened intently to the sermons delivered by the great Rev. Gardner Taylor. I usually did not sit in church with my parents, but with my friends from Sunday School, where I could at least chew some gum.

One Sunday, while partially listening to the sermon, I was spiritually uplifted by the hymn “Blessed Assurance,” which I eventually learned was written by Frances J. Crosby in 1873.

Recently, while studying the Book of Mark in the New Testament, I was reading about the healing work of Jesus (Mark 5:21-31). While he was traveling, he found himself in a crowd where there was a woman who had been sick for 12 years with a hemorrhage. She had suffered much from many doctors throughout the years and had become poor from paying them, but she was no better and in fact was worse. She had heard all about the wonderful miracles that Jesus did, and that is why she came up behind him through the crowds to touch his clothes.

She thought to herself, “If I can just touch his clothing, I will be healed.” And sure enough, as soon as she had touched him, the bleeding stopped, and she knew she was well.

Jesus realized at once that the healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

His disciples said to him, “All this crowd pressing around you and you asked who touched you?”

But he kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the frightened women, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, went forward, fell at his feet and told him what she had done. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

I have come to the conclusion that much healing can take place in the hospital if the chaplain can become part of the healing process. At SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, the religious department is very strong and hosts people of many faiths who take part in the healing process.

Patients need assurances from their physicians, nurses, social workers and support staff in order to heal. Adequate medical insurance, which will soon be available to all patients, will certainly add to the healing process. Here’s hoping that medical insurance and “Blessed Assurance” will prevail with positive outcomes!