I WAS deeply moved recently by the loving patience and tender care a cousin lavished on her husband, who had been very ill. Don't we all admire and value such a wonderful expression of two people's love for each other?
But there's another kind of Love that's very different from even the best human love. It's the Love that heals, the divine Love-God-that tenderly shepherds us, cares for us, fills our human need, whatever it might appear to be. I know, from years of personal experience, that when we become fully conscious of its presence and power, divine Love does, indeed, supply all human need, including physical healing.
Yet this Love that heals is not really comparable to human love, however comforting and selfless that love may be. The love that Christ Jesus expressed and demonstrated in his great work, derived directly from God who is Love.
Very early in my experience with the power of prayer to heal, I witnessed an example of God's special love for us, His children. A dear uncle had been taken to a hospital, suffering from a flare-up of a serious kidney disease that doctors expected would eventually be fatal. Late one night a doctor at the hospital telephoned me to say that his patient was probably not going to survive. He also felt that my uncle's condition had worsened because he was so fearful.
During the conversation I told the physician that I had just begun to study Christian Science, and that I had been impressed by Mary Baker Eddy's emphasis in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures on the importance of healing fear in the cure of disease. The doctor explained that the infection had resisted all the antibiotics they had available to treat it. ''Since we can do no more, it might help if you prayed for him in Christian Science.''
My husband suggested I ask a friend of his, who was also a Christian Scientist, for help. This kind man referred me to a passage in Science and Health where the Discoverer of Christian Science points out: ''The power of God brings deliverance to the captive. No power can withstand divine Love'' (p. 224). I began to understand that the divine Love that ''no power can withstand'' is much more than ordinary human love, no matter how compassionate and devoted-that divine Love is more than warm, protecting, and comforting human affection. It is, in fact, God Himself.
In my study and prayer that morning I read all I could about Love, beginning with these two statements in First John, in the Bible: ''God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him'' and ''There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment'' (4:16, 18).
I had been deeply stirred, in my first acquaintance with the teachings of Christian Science a few short months earlier, when I had first read Mrs. Eddy's interpretation of the twenty-third Psalm. I turned again to Science and Health, to reread her brief, simple, introductory explanation. She writes: ''In the following Psalm one word shows, though faintly, the light which Christian Science throws on the Scriptures by substituting for the corporeal sense, the incorporeal or spiritual sense of Deity.'' Using the word Love, John's name for God, throughout this familiar Psalm, she begins, ''[Divine love] is my shepherd; I shall not want'' (pp. 577-578). And as I read and reread this interpretation of the psalm, I was awed, comforted, and strengthened by a new and expanding understanding of divine Love.
As I prayed, I knew I could never again think of Love as meaning simple sympathy, kindness, devotion, and tenderness. It included all those things, but was so much more. It is God Himself, Being, Life, all-power, omnipres- ent good. Divine Love leaves no room for anything that could harm, hurt, or destroy.
At the end of that same day, my aunt telephoned. My uncle's condition had dramatically improved. He was discharged from the hospital three days later, completely well. And he lived twenty more years.
Again and again in the years since that experience I have remembered and been inspired by it. When we pray, we are dealing with divine Love, the only power there is to save and preserve. And we are healed.