PEOPLE often put up with occasional aches and pains in the muscles as just part of ''how things are.'' But we never have to accept pain--either occasional or chronic--as something we have to live with. There is a permanent remedy.
This remedy goes deeper than simply blocking out pain. It destroys it by showing us our actual, spiritual nature as the child of God. Pain has no foundation in God's nature. God is good and loving. And the love of God does not tolerate anything unlike itself, so pain can have no real existence.
Too good to be true? No. In fact, it's so good it must be true. And a couple of months ago I had proof of just how effective understanding God's love is in destroying pain. A painful shoulder had plagued me for weeks. In fact, I had nearly accommodated myself to ''living with'' it, when I met a friendly salesperson with her arm in a sling.
''It's my shoulder,'' she volunteered. ''Had this thing on for eleven weeks now and it's no better! Guess I'll just have to learn to live with it.''
As I walked away, I thought, ''We have something in common.'' But then I stopped myself. What did we really have in common? A painful shoulder? ''No!'' I said to myself. ''What we really have in common is a loving God who can heal us!'' I rejected the idea that I or anyone else had to live with pain. Such a surrender just did not make sense in the light of the power and presence of God's love. I confidently knew that God's loving power outlaws pain. I persisted in this prayer, and within a few days the pain stopped. It has not returned.
There is spiritual logic and sound reasoning behind healings like this one. The Bible tells us again and again that God is Spirit. There is no way to limit or contain infinite Spirit. God makes man in His own likeness. The likeness of Spirit is necessarily spiritual. The Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, Mary Baker Eddy, answers the question ''What is man?'' in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Part of her reply is: ''Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, b lood, bones, and other material elements. The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness. . . . Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique'' (p. 475).
This spiritual nature of our identity is fundamental to our being. Christ Jesus knew that God's creation--the only reality--is entirely spiritual, and he proved it! Once, a man with a withered hand--its muscles apparently atrophied --appeared before Jesus along with a host of critics who were waiting to see what Jesus would do. Jesus' words and actions answered the critics by underscoring God's love for man. He said to the man, ''Stretch forth thine hand.'' Matthew's Gospel tells us what happened to
the man as a result: ''And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other'' (12:13). Jesus' words brought such healing because they were backed by the fact that man's being is spiritual.
God's power and love are expressed in our orderly and harmonious lives, and we are rightly responsive only to the goodness and love of God, divine Mind. This responsiveness to God, to good, inevitably shows up as improved health and a mastery of our bodies that isn't found in muscles or physicality.
As Mrs. Eddy points out in Science and Health: ''Christian Science brings to the body the sunlight of Truth, which invigorates and purifies. Christian Science acts as an alterative, neutralizing error with Truth. It changes the secretions, expels humors, dissolves tumors, relaxes rigid muscles, restores carious bones to soundness. The effect of this Science is to stir the human mind to a change of base, on which it may yield to the harmony of the divine Mind'' (p. 162).
The effect of turning wholeheartedly to the divine Mind is not to put us to sleep, thereby simply putting aside pain for a while. Instead, we are roused to grasp the real meaning and effect of God's dominion in our own lives, including the functioning of our bodies, and this utterly destroys pain.