CHRISTIAN Scientists generally rely on God in order to stay well and to heal not only physical and mental illnesses but every kind of challenge to peace and progress. They feel that anything which would disrupt the harmony of God's creation has a solution in prayer, as Christ Jesus' healing works showed. When the subject is physical healing, people sometimes want to know what the Christian Scientist would do if there were a serious problem that appeared to require an immediate remedy.
This is a legitimate question. When faced with a condition considered ``critical,'' though, are we really helpless without some form of immediate material treatment? People often consider that prayer is something you can resort to in addition to medical means, if you're religiously inclined, but that it isn't in the most essential way really doing something effective.
Yet prayer is a fully effective healing method for me and thousands of others, even in serious circumstances. Let me give one example. During my high school years the thought would sometimes come: ``What if you ever had appendicitis? What would you do?'' Well, a few years later I had the symptoms of acute appendicitis.
When these symptoms appeared, I turned to God, praying as clearly as I could. I lost consciousness. But a Christian Science practitioner had already been called to pray for me. (She later visited to assure me of God's care.) I responded quickly to her prayer and within a few days was free of pain and able to move somewhat. Within two weeks I was well and returned to classes. I don't know how she prayed, but I do know that all fear was eliminated. Then the symptoms faded away. I had felt the presence of the Christ, God's constant message of spiritual freedom to humanity. That was more than fifteen years ago, and I've continued free of the physical trouble and of feeling vulnerable.
In metaphysical healing, diseased conditions aren't miraculously cured by appeal to a God who sometimes intervenes and sometimes doesn't hear or care. Christian Science acknowledges God as our all-knowing and all-loving Father-Mother. It rejects the conviction that man is a helpless mortal outside of God's care, or unworthy of it, and affirms each one's genuine identity as God's full expression.
It's on the basis of this understanding that healing is accomplished, that harmony is brought to light. Mary Baker Eddy1 writes, ``The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness. The likeness of Spirit cannot be so unlike Spirit.''2 What appears as a faint spiritual aspect of being is really a hint of man's continuous, immortal nature, rich in godliness. Accepting man's spirituality doesn't destroy our humanity but harmonizes and transforms it.
Disease, any discord, results from believing that something unlike God can be part of or can invade God's likeness. As solid or real as it appears to be, the lie of disease yields, through prayer, to the understanding of spiritual truth, of God and of man in His likeness. The enemy we need to confront is simply the subtle or aggressive belief that discord coexists with harmony or that disease is the ``strong force'' and health the ``weak force.'' St. Paul puts it plainly: ``What communion hath light with darkness?''3
As grateful as we are for physical healings through prayer, there are deeper purposes to communion with our creator--to grow in grace, to understand more of God and His creation, to know Immanuel, or ``God with us.''
For those interested in exploring this frontier of understanding there's another ``what if'' worth considering. What if we completely trusted Christ Jesus when he said, ``He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do''?4
1The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 475. 3II Corinthians 6:14. 4John 14:12. Healing through prayer is explored in more detail in a weekly magazine, the Christian Science Sentinel. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee. Jeremiah 32:17