My mother-in-law, who was not necessarily interested in religion, nevertheless loved to tell of this experience. It was during World War I, and all three family members were ill with the flu, which was an epidemic at that time in the United States.
They needed light nursing and housekeeping care. There was only one person who was unafraid of the contagion, she would say, who was willing to come. The one thing my mother-in-law remembered from their conversations was a statement, "There is no destruction."
I have often wished that I'd met this fearless woman. I've thought about that statement and decided that she may have been sharing an idea from Psalm 103, which so many people love: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction."
I feel sure that it was her reliance on God for all things, including healing, that enabled her to declare that there was no destruction, even as the nation was engaged in a war. And surely it was faith in God that enabled her to feel immune from the epidemic.
Though it has never been substantiated, there have been suspicions voiced over these many years since then that the severe epidemic might have been a result of germ warfare. Today, fears of terrorist-induced contagion, this time smallpox, are openly recognized, and we are alerted that the possibility of an epidemic needs our prayers.
The cruelty of contagious diseases makes us realize they do not operate under any kind of orderly and beneficent law, and the use of germ warfare as a weapon is abhorrent to most people. I was particularly interested in an article written by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded a Bible-based system known as Christian Science for preventing and healing disease. She spoke of the relentless cruelty of disease and how unfair it would be if a caring person "smoothing the pillow" of a sick friend could contract smallpox (see "Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," pg. 257).
Far from ignoring contagious diseases, Mrs. Eddy not only instructed people how to protect themselves spiritually but also expected them to comply with public health laws. While one is grateful that a health agency is ready for wholesale inoculation if a case of smallpox is discovered, I am convinced that prayer can prevent such a necessity.
An altogether good God would not create disease; otherwise it would be foolish to try to stave it off. Furthermore, this God who is the parent of us all would not create children capable of harming one another. Understanding this God to be Love itself guides our relationships with one another to be loving and caring, even at those times when we're involved in potentially dangerous situations.
Of course, something more is needed than bravado or even courage. An understanding of God and faith in a divine power to save us from destruction are key. God is the source of our immunity from harm, and putting our faith into practice by trusting His protective power, guidance, and wisdom right in the middle of a threatening situation can reveal His omnipotence ever more clearly.
This power made practical in our lives is the light of Christ, which "calms man's fears, bears his burdens, beckons him on to Truth and Love and the sweet immunity these bring from sin, sickness, and death" ("Miscellaneous Writings 18831896," pg. 320).
Yielding our hearts to God's dominion enables us to act intelligently when facing contagion, whether induced by what is considered natural means or let loose as a weapon. Our immunity possibilities are greater than we may have imagined. Far more than providing immunity from a single disease, our turning to Truth and Love is an opportunity to help our world escape all kinds of destruction.
The enlightenment of a caring Christ is found today in diverse religions and cultures. Many people are finding that God, known by whatever name, is universal Truth and Love. The God who heals our diseases and redeems our lives from destruction can be depended on to keep us immune to all evil epidemics. And all that we give to or receive from one another will have Love's imprint.