WHEN I was a teen-ager, my mother had a friend who occasionally called at our home. She was a Christian Scientist and would often speak of the importance of waking up -- not literally from sleep but from the mistaken conviction that evil is irreversible reality or that it has the prerogative to govern our lives. That puzzled me; I decided to investigate the teachings of Christian Science. I then began to understand more fully what she meant by ``waking up.'' Christ Jesus' words to the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda, who was healed after thirty-eight years of disability, impressed me: ``Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.''1 Could it be that in a sense this man woke up -- rose up mentally as well as bodily; that what took place was a kind of spiritual awakening to his God-given wholeness?
Christian Science points to the fact that sickness and disease are not the solid conditions they appear to be, because the one infinite God, who is good, neither created nor permitted ill health. This is not simply to brush aside human suffering but to help alleviate it through an understanding of divine law.
It is possible now to ``wake up'' from the nightmare of physical illness through a better understanding of God. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, drew this conclusion from her experience in seeing herself and others made well through prayer. She writes, ``To the Christian Science healer, sickness is a dream from which the patient needs to be awakened.''2 And she says, ``Insist vehemently on the great fact which covers the whole ground, that God, Spirit, is all, and that there is none beside Him.''3 God made all that was made and, according to the Bible, it was very good. God did not make a sick man.
An underlying misconception that fosters disease is that man is essentially a creature of the flesh -- that he lives in a material body which is liable to be afflicted by infection or contagion and which can swing between a state of health and sickness. This certainly appears to be true. Yet isn't God's creation infinitely more than vulnerable physicality? Our true selfhood is not a physical mortal but is the spiritual image of God, the reflection of pure Spirit.
What is it that wakes us up from the ``dream'' of disease? It is the Christ, the healing and saving power of God discerned in prayer. Christ wakes us up to the reality of God's goodness and power and of our flawless selfhood as His spiritual likeness. The power of Christ destroys both the fear that underlies disease and the evidence of disease itself. So when we turn to God in prayer, denying that disease can be any part of our true identity and acknowledging God's law of love and the power of His Christ, healing begins to take place.
My mother had a back problem for some two years after a fall. She asked me to pray for her. My attention was drawn to a statement by Mrs. Eddy: ``Hold perpetually this thought, -- that it is the spiritual idea, the Holy Ghost and Christ, which enables you to demonstrate, with scientific certainty, the rule of healing, based upon its divine Principle, Love, underlying, overlying, and encompassing all true being.''4
I acknowledged that the Christ is present to heal at all times; that divine Love's law of harmony is an all-powerful law embracing her so completely that anything contrary to her true spiritual identity could never have touched her. While I was praying along these lines, my mother telephoned, rejoicing that she had just been healed. She had been awakened from the dream of suffering through the power of Christ, available to us all.
1John 5:8. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 417. 3Ibid., p. 421. 4Ibid., p. 496.