The past two years have brought many changes in the health-care system in the United States. Yet an even more significant change has occurred over the past decade in the way that we define and treat our individual health. There is a growing movement, initiated by patients and health-care providers alike, to anticipate and treat even potential illnesses or a predisposition to illness, thereby narrowing the definition of what it means to be healthy. More and more patients fear that they are never quite safe from the threat of disease, and a “perfect bill of health” seems illusive.
The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, spent many years searching for a reliable source of health. She finally found answers in the original definition of man’s health as outlined in the Bible. In Genesis I, God creates man according to the perfect model, in God’s own likeness, thereby establishing the fact of man’s unchanging health, strength, and permanent well-being. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.…And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:26, 31).
When she encountered periods of sickness in her young adulthood, Mary Baker Eddy turned to God to overcome illness. Her deep spiritual experience of healing and being able to heal others, combined with her Bible study, enabled her to see the possibility of lasting health. She also found in the Bible examples of how this understanding of man’s spiritual nature and inherent health could heal people consistently and permanently. Reading accounts of the life and works of Christ Jesus, she noted that those he healed experienced complete healing of many chronic, hereditary, or fatal illnesses. Eventually this new understanding of true health, or the spiritual harmony of man as God’s expression, turned her away forever from the image of herself and others as sickly or predisposed to illness. She was completely healed of lifelong illness and healed countless others of sickness.
Contrary to popular belief in her lifetime and ours, she learned that “man is not a pendulum, swinging between evil and good, joy and sorrow, sickness and health, life and death.” Her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” gives this instruction, in praying for healing: “Realize the presence of health and the fact of harmonious being, until the body corresponds with the normal conditions of health and harmony” (pp. 246, 412). As the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, through her writings she helped many others understand their spiritual nature and right to experience permanent health.
I recently met a professor from a local medical school who had an interesting observation on how Christian Science views health. She had come to a meeting on Christian Science prayer and healing to better understand how to care for her patients’ spiritual needs. During the meeting she heard many accounts of rapid and permanent healings of a variety of illnesses. After the meeting she noted that while medical doctors approach healing from the standpoint that the patient is sick and they focus on the symptoms of illness and try to eradicate them, a Christian Scientist approaches patients from the understanding that they are already well and moves forward from there, praying to better understand their true, spiritual harmony.
Each of us, longing for freedom from illness and wanting a sense of lasting health, can be assured that we have been created by God with health and inherent goodness already established. Instead of watching and searching for illness, we can recognize and rejoice in our present health and well-being.