The Ebola epidemic that has spread across several West African countries has affected thousands. While world leaders are hastening to dispatch troops and aid workers, our hearts and prayers go out to those in the crisis.
We want to help those in need, but how can people far from the continent help? Christian Science teaches us that our prayers can provide very real help. In fact, Christian Science gives us tools to pray effectively about the situation, with the expectation that those prayers will bring healing and peace.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and the founder of this newspaper, wrote: “Christian Scientists ... improve the morals and the lives of men, and they heal the sick on the basis that God has all power, is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, supreme over all” ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany," p. 294).
In prayer, we first turn to God. Psalm 91 in the Bible reminds us of the importance and effectiveness of turning to and trusting God. By doing this, we are given a lovely promise of health and safety: “Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling” (verses 9, 10).
The “evil” and “plague” in this verse certainly sound applicable to the Ebola situation. Some synonyms for “plague” include “curse,” or in verb form “agitate” and “upset.” So, read with those synonyms, this psalm promises, “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any [curse or cause of upset or agitation] come nigh thy dwelling.” Belief in curses is widespread on the African continent. Also in many of its countries there is great agitation and upset manifested in wars, fear about various epidemics, tribal clashes, kidnappings, corruption, and more.
But the psalm promises safety and freedom from plagues of all kinds, including disease, for those who trust God. How does that work? Again, we find our answer in the Bible: “God is love” (I John 4:8). And, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (I John 4:18). Perfect Love – divine Love, or God – casts out fear, hatred, and plagues of any kind, physical as well as mental, because the presence and power of Love outshine anything unlike Love. Just as there is no darkness in light, there is no evil or disease in the allness of our Father-Mother Love. God’s children live in Love and express love, because we are all created in God’s image and likeness as explained in the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible. This understanding, coming through prayer, brings the healing light of Love wherever it is needed.
This quote from Mrs. Eddy sheds light on the mental climate found in many parts of the world, including Africa, and helps direct our prayers: “I would enjoy taking by the hand all who love me not, and saying to them, ‘I love you, and would not knowingly harm you.’ Because I thus feel, I say to others: Hate no one; for hatred is a plague-spot that spreads its virus and kills at last” ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896" pp. 11-12). So what is the antidote for hatred, this “plague-spot”? God, or divine Love. The reality of Love, understood, ameliorates hate. Love being reflected in each of us is the antidote for hatred, cursing, agitation, and plagues of any kind, because it is not in the nature of Love to afflict Her children or allow them to be afflicted. According to the Scripture, “Love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10).
In her primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mrs. Eddy writes of Christ Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection: “He proved Life to be deathless and Love to be the master of hate” (p. 44). To master something is to have power over it, to win. By nature of its allness, infinite Love is supreme. Therefore, Love masters hate, destroying it. Our work is to gain a better understanding of Love’s presence and power. Christ Jesus had such an understanding. He exemplified a love for God and man that brought practical, inspiring proofs of the allness of God and Love’s mastery of hate. Following Jesus’ example by obeying the law of Love, not hate, allows us not only to pray effectively, but to heal.
We can pray daily for ourselves as well as for our brothers and sisters around the world this bold and powerful statement of truth: “Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you” (Science and Health, p. 571). Understanding this truth and praying in earnest enable us to see that all are in God’s care, no matter what our physical location may be, and this can’t help but bring healing wherever it is needed.