I USED to worry that illness might be punishment for doing or thinking bad things. If this were true, I thought, there couldn't be much hope for anyone, since no one I knew was always good.Then I came on the account in Matthew's Gospel of the healing by Christ Jesus of the man sick of the palsy. People had brought the man to the Master, and the first thing Jesus said to him was, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. I thought that was wonderful. It didn't take a complete inventory of the man's history in order for Jesus to acknowledge God's power and presence, and to give the man reason to be joyful. Some who were present didn't think that Jesus should be forgiving sins. But Jesus said that they were thinking evil and that there wasn't much difference between saying "Thy sins be forgiven thee and saying "Arise, and walk. The man was healed--he simply got up and walked. In this way Jesus proved definitively that he was obeying God in the works he did. And he showed that it is possible for the Christ--the spiritual idea of God that always is with man--to uplift and restore the sick, the sinning, the sorrowful. The Bible report concludes, "When the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men. You can't read the Bible without being impressed with the tenacity of the belief in and search for this redeeming power of God. Even in the Old Testament, before the appearing of Jesus, through prayer that trusted in a divinity watching over His people--steady as a Shepherd --individuals continued to run their lives and hopes according to small and great proofs of God's law and love. In the nineteenth century one student of the Bible, Mary Baker Eddy, became convinced that the healings of Christ Jesus illustrated the divine Principle that is God. Mrs. Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, saw that the life and teachings of Jesus could be explained and followed in scientific terms. And in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she states: "The physical healing of Christian Science results now, as in Jesus' time, from the operation of divine Prin ciple, before which sin and disease lose their reality in human consciousness and disappear as naturally and as necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation. Now, as then, these mighty works are not supernatural, but supremely natural. The premise for spiritual healing is understanding that existence is not what it has commonly been accepted to be. The man of God's creating is not a sinner. And, contrary to the physical sciences and the evidence of the material senses, man is not a limited, material enigma, estranged from his creator. Instead, man is really what the Bible says he is --God's offspring, His image and likeness. This means that the true identity of each of us is spiritual, perfect, alive to everything good. And this is the basis on which a person who is sick can be of good cheer, can correct wrongdoing, can even accept an invitation to "arise, and walk. It is prayer that brings us to this spiritual understanding, to an acceptance of what God's work is. By trusting and loving God, divine Spirit, we are able to turn from materiality and look and act in harmony with what is spiritually always right. Then the shadows of doubt, pain, fear--the material confines of thought--recede and disappear. This was proved to me. A while after I had begun to study Christian Science, I injured my back while on vacation. It was impossible to move without pain; for days (and nights) I lay on a couch, having to be cared for by family members. I did little but pray and study the Bible and Science and Health. I was certain healing would come as I felt--really deeply felt--the truth of man's spiritual nature and of God's supreme power. One afternoon I saw people going toward the beach, laughing and singing. For a second I thought: "There go the multitudes. I wish they would invite me to go along. Then I recalled that I could hardly have accepted an invitation. I also remembered why the word multitudes had come up. I'd just been reading the account of the healing of the man with palsy. Now it occurred to me that there was an invitation I could respond to--the one Jesus gave to that sick man. I already had faith, like the people who carried their friend; I was at least on the way to being of good cheer because I was understanding more clearly man's true identity as God's perfect offspring. Then I wondered if I might be resisting healing--restoration of normal activity--as the doubters had been in the Bible account. Was I fully acknowledging the presence of Christ, the naturalness of the operation of divine Principle? I prayed, then, for that understanding and thanked God for His love. Within minutes of starting this spiritual reasoning I felt quite different physically. There was no more pain. It was just as if I accepted the invitation to be healed. I sat up, then stood up, and walked down to the beach to join my family. Such instances of healing--actual evidence of change from physical infirmity to well-being--do happen today, to ordinary people, as they did in Bible times. And they are proof of the presence of God and His Christ-idea.
I am the Lord that healeth thee. Exodus 15:26