SOMETIMES people try to explain suffering by saying that God has sent it to purify or to test us. I used to believe that. Yet there was always the question in the back of my mind: If our Father, God, is Love, as the Bible teaches, why would He make His children suffer? When I became acquainted with Christian Science, I was offered a whole new perspective on God, man, and pain. Since God is entirely good and is Love itself, this Science explains, pain does not come from God. Man, who is made in God's likeness, must be completely spiritual, pure, and beloved of God.
Certainly Christ Jesus' ministry illustrates clearly that God does not want us to suffer. When he encountered a leper who wanted to be healed,1 he didn't say, ``God sent leprosy to test your faith.'' He said, ``I will; be thou clean.'' And he healed the leper.
The question, Where does the pain come from? has its basis in the carnal, or mortal, mind. This mind or mentality is a conviction that we are material beings who are separated from God and who are doomed to suffering and death. Understanding that our true nature is spiritual and that we are inseparable from God, however, completely changes our outlook on life. We begin to see that we can turn to God in the midst of suffering and can pray to gain, through Christ, a clearer grasp of our spirituality.
What Christ, the true idea of God, is telling us of our identity is that we are children of God, and as His likeness, we can have only that which is like Him. Pain is certainly not Godlike, and through earnest prayer we can reject it from our own experience.
I know that it is not always easy to feel joy in the midst of pain, or love instead of stress. But this spiritual self-discipline helps to free us from the belief that we are material. As our perspective changes, we begin to see the truth of this statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Selfishness and sensualism are educated in mortal mind by the thoughts ever recurring to one's self, by conversation about the body, and by the expectation of perpetual pleasure or pain from it; and this education is at the expense of spiritual growth.''2
We also begin to see the way out of this false education. Turning to God in prayer and actively striving to demonstrate our spirituality give us insights into what we are letting control our thoughts and lives. We need to weed out hateful, angry thoughts and to love and cherish our relationship to God. This can be hard work! But instead of accepting materiality, we can reject it because it is not spiritual. And whatever is not spiritual is not a part of the nature God has given us.
Such an effort can actually eliminate even a longstanding painful condition. One of the sources of pain in my life was a minor birth defect in my leg. When kneeling a certain way, I felt sharp pains. One day, not long after I had begun to study Christian Science, I was kneeling and the pains began. But this time I remembered what I had been learning of my spirituality.
I thought, ``If man really is fundamentally spiritual, I don't need to live with this pain.'' I prayed to love God more and to realize that the pain could not have come from Him. The pain did stop and I felt an adjustment in the leg. I have not had that difficulty again in the many years since that healing. I can't say that prayer has made my life totally pain-free. But as I have understood God better, the amount of pain in my life has substantially decreased. This promise is open to you, too. You can begin as I did and find out for yourself about God's love for you.
1See Matthew 8:2, 3. 2Science and Health, p. 260.