Read the news and you might assume the inevitability of a new strain of influenza flooding the world every year. As this year's "season" winds down, a number of reports already focus on medical researchers now working to come up with a vaccination for what they expect to be next year's virus. The motives for that research are noble and compassionate. It's interesting to consider, though, how different society's underlying expectations are from what one of the Bible's prophets foresaw.
Habakkuk prophesied, "The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2:14). What if our own outlook for a year from now coincided with that Scriptural insight and foresight? To glimpse our earth as filled with the knowledge of God's present goodness - rather than with a new strain of a harmful virus - puts our expectations on a hopeful path. Even more, it's a practical step benefiting ourselves and others. It helps us all prepare for seasons of health, rather than illness.
While an upbeat outlook is more healthy than a deflated or fearful one, knowing something of the nature and power of God, who is the great Physician, is even more beneficial. It is powerful healing prayer. And why shouldn't our prayer be preventive as well as curative?
When we know God as divine Life and divine Love, we find there's no limit to His goodness, power, and health-sustaining presence. Divine Life, understood and affirmed in our prayers, finds expression in the vitality, strength, and spiritual immunity of each one of us. Divine Love imparts a resiliency and a buoyancy to all. Focusing more on expressing these spiritual qualities reshapes our thinking, and therefore reshapes what we can expect in terms of health. When we give our consent to the right thing - when we look for the earth to be filled with the understanding of the glory and goodness of the Lord - we make a mental move that has disease-preventing power. And healthful implications for everyone.
Nowhere in human history have the beneficial effects of prayer - of seeing the "earth ... filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord" - been more clearly illustrated than in the life and healing ministry of Christ Jesus. Where he had opportunity to consent to influences such as hate, he consented to love. Where death threatened, he consented to life. When multitudes of disease-riddled individuals came to him, he refused to consent to that view of them. Instead, through his intimate knowledge of God, he evidently saw God's creation as filled with the vitality, the buoyancy, the resiliency, the spiritual immunity, that come from knowing God. This knowledge maintains and restores health.
It's realistic to see the same healing presence Christ Jesus drew on as still available to us today. And to throw our mental and spiritual weight into expecting seasons of health, seasons where the divine influence is understood as the supreme and overriding influence.
The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, had a keen insight into the healing power of God. In a brief article called "Contagion," she makes this observation: "Floating with the popular current of mortal thought without questioning the reliability of its conclusions, we do what others do, believe what others believe, and say what others say. Common consent is contagious, and it makes disease catching." From a conviction of God's omnipresence, she encourages people to believe more in the contagious nature of good than of evil. Then she offers a kind of prophecy: "The confidence of mankind in contagious disease would thus become beautifully less; and in the same proportion would faith in the power of God to heal and to save mankind increase, until the whole human race would become healthier, holier, happier, and longer lived" (Miscellaneous Writings, pgs. 228-229).
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society