The Boston Globe described the plight of US Marine Sgt. Jason Wittling, paralyzed from the neck down after a Humvee rollover in Iraq (March 20).
My initial reaction was compassion - and a lot of pity. But I'd read the article in the first place only because I wanted to understand this situation more clearly and contribute constructively through my prayers. I didn't want to just get swallowed up by sadness.
Sergeant Wittling's comments and his hope struck me. He insists he will walk again, despite what the doctors say. He believes his sacrifice is worth it. "I'm paying the price of freedom right now, and I have no regrets about doing it," he says.
His attitude and outlook on his life were much more positive than my bleak view of his life. I felt gently rebuked and was determined to find a more healing response. This time as I prayed, I dropped the pity and asked God to show me what I needed to see.
This was my answer: "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24). In other words, I needed to judge this soldier the way God does. God judges him rightly, the way He created him - loved, cared for, and expressing the qualities of His Father-Mother God. These qualities of Spirit are mentioned in the Bible: "The Spirit ... produces in human life fruits such as these: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity, tolerance and self-control - and no law exists against any of them" (Gal. 5:22, J.B. Phillips).
Our true nature as God's child, the essence of who we are, doesn't change just because material conditions change. As that Bible verse says, no law exists against the expression of these qualities. That's because God is our Creator, and what He makes in us can't be destroyed even by the worst tragedy.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, asked this thought-provoking question: "What is man? Brain, heart, blood, bones, etc., the material structure? If the real man is in the material body, you take away a portion of the man when you amputate a limb .... But the loss of a limb or injury to a tissue is sometimes the quickener of manliness; and the unfortunate cripple may present more nobility than the statuesque athlete ..." ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," page 172).
This view doesn't minimize or ignore the challenges many people face. But judging righteous judgment - leaning on God's view of things - says matter will not have the last word. This approach is the best way I've found healing for myself and others.
Last month I started to battle aggressive flu symptoms. I decided that after I ran an errand, I would come home and crawl into bed. But I prayed along the lines of the Bible verse again: "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." To me this meant that even though I had a sore throat and felt feverish, I could be willing to adopt God's view of who I am. I knew that God saw me the way He made me - spiritual, whole, healthy - all the time. Embracing this more Godlike view has brought much healing to my life.
Then I heard another message from God that surprised me: Why don't you judge the president with righteous judgment? Find something you can appreciate about him. I'd been having a hard time agreeing with anything he was doing, so this wasn't easy to hear.
But it was so unusual and it came at such an odd time, I knew I needed to obey. So I did. Looking for the good, I realized I could be grateful that he had overcome a drinking problem, and he attributed his healing to the power of God. I felt peaceful and inspired.
Then an astonishing thing happened: I immediately felt better. The flu symptoms, which moments before had felt so overwhelming, began to dissolve. I didn't need to go to bed. By the next morning I was completely well, and the symptoms didn't return.
Not only did I feel changed physically, but I felt changed mentally. Since then I've felt less emotional about issues, less critical of the government, and more supportive. Whether or not I agree with someone, I can love them and support their efforts to do good.
Standing in prayer, not in judgment, contributes to progress and brings healing. Mrs. Eddy put it this way: "Whatever holds human thought in line with unselfed love, receives directly the divine power" (page 192).