Food, health, and God's care

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

The New York Times ran an article on the front page of its Science section last week, asking, "Which of These Foods Will Stop Cancer?" along with photos of a vegetable, fish, ice cream, and chicken (Sept. 27).

The content explored many points of view regarding food and the treatment of that disease, and essentially concluded that the connection between diet and prevention or treatment is unknown. To me, one of the interesting points was that regardless of the fact that reliable conclusions cannot be drawn, people elect to follow diets that they believe might defend them. People want to feel that they are doing something practical to stay healthy.

The question of the role that diet plays in health is not a new one. Mary Baker Eddy, founder of this newspaper, explored this territory more than a century ago, enroute to her discovery of a system of spiritual healing based on Christ Jesus' healing ministry. She experimented with the dietary trends of her day, searching for her own health.

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Ultimately, she pored over the Bible as her guide in finding answers. Undoubtedly in her studies she came across an account in the book of Daniel that considers the link between diet and health. In this account, several individuals were selected to be groomed for their eventual presentation to serve the king. Daniel, who was among them, refused to change his diet to "the king's meat," which was supposedly healthier.

An experiment was conducted, dividing the individuals into two groups. One group ate the king's meat, and the other ate simpler fare, called "pulse." At the end of the 10-day test, those who ate the pulse appeared healthier than those who took the king's meat.

For generations, people have wanted to enjoy good health; there is nothing more normal than this desire. And many are willing to take steps toward preserving and restoring health. The question is, how best to do this?

The meek and mighty life of Christ Jesus answers that question for me. He healed multitudes. He preserved in some, and restored in others, what is good and lasting, even eternal. And he did something else. He promised that we could do this, too. How? Through understanding what he taught, and through knowing God.

One of the letters of John states it this way: "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life" (I John 5:20).

On my own for the first time when I was in my early 20s, and coming out of years of a ballet environment where much focus was placed on diet, I was trying to establish eating habits, and not doing very well with it. After trying different regimens, and seeing each one fail miserably, I decided that I would have to solve this through prayer. I went to visit a Christian Science practitioner who gave me some helpful ideas and treatment. I don't know exactly how he prayed for me in the treatment, but his counsel was essentially to fearlessly put God first.

Not long after our visit, I came across these words from Christ Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount: "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; ... Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" (Matt. 6:25).

He elaborates in the passages that follow with assurance that God is caring for us, feeding and sustaining us better than we could possibly do. I took from these lines that these details can be trusted to a loving divine Presence to whom we are all precious and necessary. This has proved reliable.

We all make choices about what we eat each day. Those choices needn't be driven by fear and alarm, but can be guided by a wise, all- caring God, to whom we can go for all our needs.

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