A friend of mine was suffering greatly because of separators that had been installed between her teeth in preparation for braces. She described her condition in great detail to her mother. "And the worst thing about it is that I'm so tempted to remove these separators myself to end the pain," she concluded. "What?!" her mother replied, "and waste all that money?!"
With that shock therapy the pain in her teeth stopped instantly. Without the removal of the separators. From this, my friend realized something profound about pain: that a change in thought about a condition can actually change the condition.
Of course, simply thinking about wasting "all that money" isn't the way to healing! There's a need for more than mind over matter if we want to gain lasting freedom from pain. Fortunately, the way has already been prepared by the healing practice of Christ Jesus. It is clear from his healing works that his confidence in God's love and willingness to heal others never wavered.
Jesus' followers learned from his example how to deal with pain and other troubles. The Apostle Paul, for example, shared in his many letters to churches what he learned. To the Romans, he wrote: "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:22, 23).
Such redemption happens in different ways for each of us, but a common element is that we gain a more spiritual view of ourselves, our lives, and our relation to God. Redemption goes far beyond pain management. It is literally able to free us from pain.
Whether physical or mental, the struggle with pain suggests that we have been cut off from God's love and care. But pain will cease when we apprehend that we cannot be separated from God, because God, being omnipresent, cannot be absent. There is no space - small or large - that can somehow come between any of us and our divine Maker. We are spiritual ideas of the divine Mind, created specifically to fulfill His purpose. And as His ideas, we dwell in Him. We are not actually subject to material conditions in which something can go wrong or be defective.
"Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, explains: "The belief that matter thinks, sees, or feels is not more real than the belief that matter enjoys and suffers. This mortal belief, misnamed man, is error, saying: 'Matter has intelligence and sensation. Nerves feel. Brain thinks and sins. The stomach can make a man cross. Injury can cripple and matter can kill man.' This verdict of the so-called material senses victimizes mortals, taught, as they are by physiology and pathology, to revere false testimony, even the errors that are destroyed by Truth through spiritual sense and Science" (Pg. 294).
Several years ago, while swimming, I dislocated my shoulder. I prayed for the shoulder to go back into place. It seemed obvious to me that this was what needed to happen, and I thought it would be equally obvious to God. It wasn't, because God does not view His children as mortal beings, with or without dislocated shoulders. I needed to understand that. And I needed to grasp the fact that, as God's spiritual idea, I was not a mortal with a physical problem, needing a physical remedy.
This dawned on me during the second day. While praying, I realized something of my spirituality and inseparability from God. It wasn't a dramatic flash - just a simple change of perspective. The pain stopped, and I was able to use my arm and shoulder freely.
Much is said today about learning to cope with pain or to manage it, but there is no need to endure endless suffering. Science and Health includes many passages that explain how to gain freedom from pain by trusting in the power of God's law. When we follow its insights, which grew out of the author's study of the Bible and her own experience in healing herself and others, we will stop believing in the necessity of pain, and rejoice daily in our inseparability from God. This joy and freedom is yours because it is God's purpose for all of us.