The shortage of flu vaccine has been in the news, and the other day it was the lead story on the radio. Many places that were scheduled to provide the vaccine have canceled their programs due to the shortage.
I'll have to say, though, that at the supermarket, people were much calmer than the reporters I heard on the radio. At the store some people agreed that the shots are helpful for some individuals, but that after getting them last year some still came down with the flu. So, they were concerned but not afraid.
I wish the radio reporter had been at the supermarket. Of course the media need to cover a story that affects the welfare of so many people and raises questions about the reasons for the shortage. But it's unfortunate that much coverage conveys hysteria.
This year many news magazines have had features that have looked into the mind-body connection in dealing with illness. There's a growing consensus that the state of one's mind can have a direct impact on one's health in both a positive and negative direction. Consequently, fanning the flames of fear is not wise.
Public policy requires that remaining supplies be given to those who seem most vulnerable. But what about the rest of us? Is there anything else that can be done?
Going back to the mind-body concept, what can we do to be mentally stronger or less vulnerable to sickness? Few are going to believe that sheer willpower can ward off sickness. But some people have started to raise the question, What is the divine will? Is there a spiritual force or factor that could keep us safe?
Many people turn to God in prayer when they are ill. But can we turn to God before this and ask to be kept free from getting sick?
It's always interesting to see what guidance the Bible offers on questions such as these. A notable part of Jesus' work, for example, was healing the sick. It's hard to escape the conclusion that he deliberately challenged the power of sickness over men, women, and children. If people were ill, as his disciple Peter's mother-in-law once was when she was suffering from a fever, he came to them and healed them.
Speaking of his works he said, "I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (John 5:30). Because Jesus' healing works were so extensive, I have to draw the conclusion that Jesus knew that sickness was not part of God's will, but that healing sickness was. I don't believe that God, whom the Bible refers to as divine Love, would have made some people sick so that Jesus could do a miraculous work on them. There is something very unloving about that.
So I'm led to believe that sickness was and remains contrary to God's will. That suggests that if we can learn how to be in touch with God's will, we can be healed as well. Better yet, if we can be in touch with God's will, we can be protected from becoming sick in the first place. We can find spiritual immunization.
What would be a first step? An expert on this subject, Mary Baker Eddy, counseled people to do this: "We should prevent the images of disease from taking form in thought, and we should efface the outlines of disease already formulated in the minds of mortals" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pages 174-175). Rather than flooding thought with pictures of flu and its symptoms, we can choose to think about what it would be like to be under divine care, divine protection.
The 91st Psalm says that if we are conscious of being under divine care, then no "plague shall come nigh [our] dwelling," -- our home, our body, our thought.
Jesus certainly must have had a conscious sense of God's presence, of God's love and power. He openly acknowledged and thanked God for this love that he could feel was right at hand. And he revealed it to others through his healing works.
So as we cultivate a similar sense of God's powerful love, a love that is constant, a love that is present with all of us, a love that excludes none but includes all, a love that is powerfully active, we are embracing a spiritual fact that can prevent the development of sickness in our lives. Many have found that it's a powerful form of spiritual immunization.