SOMETIMES when we are sick, we have the feeling that the trouble has a certain pattern it needs to follow. We may think that a fever must run its course, for instance, before we can begin to feel better. This attitude toward sickness is one that people have had for centuries. Yet Christ Jesus' ministry completely shattered any foundation for this belief. The Master was able to heal sickness instantaneously, and this showed that there isn't any inherent need to wait for healing.
Of course, there were some people who had been waiting a long time for healing before the Master came along. One man had waited for thirty-eight years! A woman had spent all she had, but had not been healed. These two individuals were cured immediately by the Master's understanding that man is truly spiritual and inseparable from God.
This spiritual fact can help us also. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, points out the essential difference between the common concept of man and the understanding of spiritual reality that enabled Jesus to heal people. She explains: ``Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements. The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is no t that likeness.''
It's a radical statement to affirm that man is spiritual, God's likeness -- especially in light of the fact that sickness and suffering tend to argue that we are material beings and therefore that we must submit to disease. But even a tiny glimpse of the truth that our genuine identity is actually spiritual, created by God, Spirit, will help us to overcome the illness.
For instance, one day I was quite sick, but I absolutely had to go to work. I decided that I would pray with the expectation that prayer would heal me. From other healings brought about through prayer, I knew I could trust God to help me.
I prayed to understand man's true nature as the likeness of God. Since the only place where sickness can take place is in matter, I concluded that neither Spirit, God, nor His spiritual likeness, man, could be subject to sickness. And since you and I are in truth this spiritual man, we can -- through prayer -- claim our exemption from disease.
Proving this through spiritual understanding requires us to get a clearer and deeper understanding of what spirituality is. If man is not material, then what is his nature? The answer comes as we understand God better. For instance, since God is the source of all -- and only -- good, His likeness can't include disease or hereditary tendencies toward disease. Instead, His offspring are made up of spiritual qualities such as love, purity, intelligence, joy, and peace. These are the elements of our true na ture.
At first it may seem that such qualities are nice to have but not very relevant to the nuts and bolts of daily living. This is where Jesus' life and works stand as the premiere example of God's immediacy in human life. And in my prayer, I was counting on the ever-presence of God to come to my aid.
As I prayed, I thought about something that had happened the day before which had left me feeling very angry at myself. In fact, I had spent quite some time condemning myself for it the previous night. While it was true that I could have handled the situation better, the fact was that condemning myself was not the answer, either.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul provides a wonderful answer to all forms of condemnation, whether it comes from us or from others. He says, ``There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.''
I suddenly realized that if I really was trying to walk ``after the Spirit,'' then I couldn't continue in the self-condemnation. And I also didn't need to be sick, because my true spiritual nature could not be subject either to condemnation or to disease. I knew I could include only the good -- peace, for instance, and love -- that God was giving me. The pain and discomfort left. I was completely well.
None of us is condemned to sickness. Gaining a deeper understanding of our inseparability from God will help us to think of ourselves in spiritual, instead of material, terms. And as we do this, we will find it easier to live more in accord with His plan -- to give up anger, frustration, sensuality, and other material elements.
As we are willing to turn from these essentially sinful flaws and embrace more fully our actual spiritual nature, sickness will become less and less of a factor in our lives. And if we do become ill, we'll be able to prove through prayer that we don't have to wait to be well.
Jesus began to preach, and to say,
Repent: for the kingdom of heaven
is at hand....
And Jesus went about all Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues,
and preaching the gospel of the kingdom,
and healing all manner of sickness
and all manner of disease
among the people.
And his fame went throughout all Syria:
and they brought unto him
all sick people that were taken
with divers diseases and torments...
and he healed them.
Matthew 4:17, 23, 24