Our spiritual defense against the flu

A Christian Science perspective.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, has continued to cause illness in the United States and other countries during the summer months. In June, the World Health Organization declared the flu to be a pandemic, and since then there have been suggestions that this fall will bring a more serious and possibly deadly outbreak.

Rather than give in to fear or adopt a fatalistic approach, we can take effective spiritual steps today to defend against the spread of disease. The Bible makes clear that God found all that He created to be "very good" (Gen. 1:31). Goodness does not include evil, because they are opposites. Jesus understood that God is all good and has all power, and through this spiritual understanding, he was able to heal people's troubles, including disease. These healing works proved disease to be powerless. Following Jesus' example, we can insist on our own and everyone's exemption from what might seem like the necessity to get sick.

When an illness is widely discussed in the media, this tends to create an atmosphere of fear that includes the expectation of more sickness. I've found that this promise from the book of Isaiah in the Bible relieves my fear of illness and increases my conviction that only good has power: "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness" (41:10).

To be free from fear involves changing how we view ourselves. By understanding that we are actually spiritual, the children of an entirely good God, we can resist disease and the fear of its inevitability, knowing that He couldn't possibly impart evil to His loved offspring.

This spiritual line of defense is much more than positive thinking. Declaring that you are well and that you will remain so, because you are spiritual, does more to promote health than waiting fearfully to see if you will get sick. And the prayerful affirmation of God's – good's – allness is effective, convincing us that the same good Principle that brought creation into being empowers and upholds our health.

One winter, I was caring for a relative who was ill with the flu. In the past I'd often become ill myself when helping other family members. But this time was different. Earlier in the year I had come to understand that illness has no real power from God behind it. I'd realized that God was the only cause. As I cared for my relative, I rejoiced in the unfailing power of God to uphold health. I didn't suffer any ill effects, and soon my relative was also well.

In Mary Baker Eddy's book on scientific spiritual healing, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," she described this mental method of disease prevention: "Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously. When the condition is present which you say induces disease, whether it be air, exercise, heredity, contagion, or accident, then perform your office as porter and shut out these unhealthy thoughts and fears. Exclude from mortal mind the offending errors; then the body cannot suffer from them. The issues of pain or pleasure must come through mind, and like a watchman forsaking his post, we admit the intruding belief, forgetting that through divine help we can forbid this entrance" (pp. 392–393).

The creative, divine intelligence is actively and perpetually maintaining individual health. By acknowledging God's supreme power, we can overcome fear of sickness. This change of thought directly prevents the appearance of symptoms in the body. And when we have overcome our own fear through spiritual understanding, we benefit not only ourselves but others as well. The removal of any fear from the mental atmosphere contributes to the general health of all.

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