Almost coincidentally, Wednesday's news that two American women who had been held hostage in North Korea were released came with word that three American hikers were detained for entering Iran illegally ("Detained hikers stir memories of Iran hostage crisis," The Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 3).
I wanted to help in both of these hostage situations, and the way I knew how was through prayer. The ongoing demand for an end to illegal imprisonment brought me both a renewed conviction that 1. Freedom is the natural state of each of us as God's creation, and 2. This freedom is primarily mental. While it's sometimes challenging to keep possession of one's thoughts, especially when physically imprisoned, it is essential that this control not be surrendered. Prayers for those wrongly incarcerated, and even for those serving rightful prison sentences, may well support the right of each individual to do his or her own thinking.
The Bible records these words of Jesus: "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). To many Bible readers, this statement is an assurance that we need never entertain limiting thoughts of any kind. We can always look beyond mere human thinking and find the spiritual truth that frees thought from accepting anyone's enslavement as legitimate. It is man's and woman's nature and destiny to be free from all imprisoning thoughts. This naturally includes freedom from illnesses, as well as other forms of imprisonment.
"Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written by Mary Baker Eddy, includes many testimonies of freedom gained from imprisoning thoughts and diseases. One testimony states that the medical verdict was that the testifier would become completely helpless. She wrote, "At that time a copy of 'Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures' by Mrs. Eddy was loaned me. I read it more from curiosity than with the thought of any physical benefit. As the truth was unfolded to me, I realized that the mental condition was what needed correcting, and that the Spirit of truth which inspired this book was my physician. My healing is complete, and the liberation in thought is manifest in a life of active usefulness rather than the bondage of helpless invalidism and suffering" (p. 601).
Whatever holds us in mental bondage will yield to the spiritual truth we entertain and apply specifically. Holding to truthful thoughts demands self-discipline. It does not allow for daydreaming or indulging vindictive or negative thinking. We can expect rightful thinking to be an element of what eventually frees us from all kinds of bondage. Finding freedom from fear and false beliefs in our own lives, we become part of that great force for good that brings freedom to all humankind.
The Truth that makes free is not static. It is always unfolding to meet the specific needs of the hour. At the time of this writing, the hikers are still imprisoned in Iran. As each one of us who is praying for their freedom examines his or her own thought, healing messages will come individually, and perhaps in fresh terms.
While gaining freedom from all that would enslave us is a daily, even an hourly, opportunity, we can rejoice in each step of freedom, large or small. We can be assured that our prayerfully achieved freedom does not trespass on another but provides an atmosphere where liberty is secure. Right now we can accept the spiritual fact that there is no thinking or action that can imprison those hikers. On behalf of the world, we have the spiritual ability to refuse to entertain any imprisoning thought. We can always know that the truth that makes us free in the first place, sets us free from whatever circumstance may have entangled us or others in mental or physical bonds.