I WAS listening to an interview of a young woman who believed herself to be in the final stages of AIDS. It was a heart-rending conversation. One of the things that impressed me the most as I listened was the tremendous feeling of self-examination that had begun in this person's life. But there was also the haunting assumption that events were irreversible, that there was no alternative but to adjust emotionally to the worst, which was yet to come. Diseases, particularly those deemed hopeless, cast a pall over the human race. In such suffering there is little that suggests the slightest good purpose. Yet it is at this very point that we can take our strongest stand against such evil. There is nothing good in disease, and that's why it has nothing of divine law to uphold it, to sustain it, to cause it.
Willingness to admit this single point is an important first step in confronting disease, regardless of the form it takes or the ``causes'' that have been linked to its appearance. The next and most important step has to do with learning how to commune spiritually with God, who, as we can gather from the Scriptures, is infinite Life, Truth, and Love. Such communion requires that we courageously confront whatever in our thought would alienate us from God, from pure Spirit.
Evil, whether it assumes the form of sickness or sin, is always a hideous deception. It would argue that men and women are reduced to ciphers of circumstance and statistics with little recourse to something better. Such false belief is always a factor in the arguments of evil at any stage. These arguments are often cast in terms of inevitability and acceptability. And that may be a fundamental reason why men and women consent to evil. At the time it appears, it seems insurmountable (oftentimes desirable), and consent seems a reasonable choice.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science and founder of this newspaper, had a profoundly humane response to her fellow beings. Speaking of human weakness that she saw binding mankind to evil, she writes, ``If mortal mind knew how to be better, it would be better.''1
But she didn't leave the matter there. She herself was bound by illness much of her young adult life, and others whom she loved succumbed to the moral and physical frailties of human existence. She fought back, but in a deeply spiritual way. She came to understand that, as the Bible teaches, man is the image and likeness of God, and that whatever would defile or destroy that pure spiritual selfhood must be resisted unrelentingly--be it the subtle thrusts of sickness or of sin.
In her own experience, when hope had nearly been exhausted for her own recovery from an accident, she turned to the Bible for help. Later she spoke of ``a hunger and thirst after divine things'' that had been with her since childhood. She wrote in her autobiography that she was ``impelled'' by ``a desire for something higher and better than matter, and apart from it,--to seek diligently for the knowledge of God as the one great and ever-present relief from human woe.''2
The unconditional yearning for knowledge of God is an alternative to evil. Such yearning is also a prayer. It can open paths to healing and spiritual regeneration yet unexplored. This form of prayer begins at once to reverse the terrible pronouncements of evil as well as those decisions and actions that may have in our past precipitated evil occurrences. Christ Jesus spoke with utter confidence in God's ever-present redeeming love when he said: ``Ask, and it shall be given you.... If ye...know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?''3
It is God's will that His pure image and likeness be preserved. That likeness is our true spiritual being as God's man.
Man is what God has made him to be --immortal, whole, free, upright. And Christian Science in its treatment of disease or sin marshals the spiritual understanding that man is God's image and likeness, responsive only to his heavenly Father's will. That spiritual understanding is based on the teachings and healing works of Christ Jesus. The accomplishment of healing through prayer is relevant to the present age. Such works will occur as men and women conform their lives to the goodness and purity that are the expression of God in man. This plague, like others before it, can yield to the spiritual truth that Jesus showed mankind.
1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 186. 2Retrospection and Introspection, p. 31. 3Matthew 7:7, 11. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of salvation. Psalms 51:10-12