A Christian Science perspective: What a miracle is.
Have you ever witnessed a miracle? Through all of life’s experiences, have you ever seen something awe-inspiring that simply wasn’t attributable to human causes? Many are probably hoping or praying for a miracle right now. Even though commercialism may obscure the holiday message, the Christmas season – with its emphasis on love, generosity, and Christ’s appearing – has inspired hope and faith in many a heart.
From one perspective, the advent of Christ Jesus seemed miraculous. There were numerous threats to the babe, not the least of which was King Herod’s intent to kill this child by whom he felt threatened. God sent angels, however, to advise those who were involved in welcoming Jesus and ensuring his safety. From the young family’s safe passage into Egypt to the wise men’s angel message to evade Herod, God was gently shepherding Jesus and those who provided for him. Against all human odds, the child was protected from harm.
If we consider miracles to be favorable events that are not materially explainable and are the result of divine power, then we might indeed describe the events surrounding Jesus’ birth as miraculous. Perhaps the more important question is whether we view God’s presence and power as exceptional – as an occasional occurrence – or as something natural that we can count on.
The Bible, which describes God as “a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1), is filled with accounts of what are called miracles. These include works performed not only by Jesus and his apostles, but by numerous individuals who predated Jesus’ appearance on earth. What did these occurrences have in common? It seems each of those individuals reached out to God with faith in His power, and with expectancy of good results.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, came to realize that it’s not only possible to experience healing through the power of God, but that healing is the natural result of turning to Him with a heart filled with faith, understanding, and love.
Rather than viewing miracles as unexplainable deviations from law, Mrs. Eddy saw them as the normative and predictable fulfillment of law. She writes in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “The belief that the universe, including man, is governed in general by material laws, but that occasionally Spirit sets aside these laws, – this belief belittles omnipotent wisdom, and gives to matter the precedence over Spirit” (p. 83).
Christian Science teaches that God, Spirit, is infinite Love and the sole cause of all that exists. God has created us in His own image and likeness (see Genesis 1). Instead of being separated from God, we are His very expression. As beams of light emanate from the sun, each of us is a single beam radiating divine Love.
Prayer that brings healing is more than an appeal for God’s help. Instead, it is a grateful acknowledgment that God knows every one of our needs and is lovingly meeting them. Rather than changing reality, prayer helps us see the spiritual reality of God’s perfection more clearly. When we begin to bring our thinking into accord with the divine and view ourselves and our neighbor as we truly are – healthy, harmonious, and deeply cherished by God – there is an inevitable healing effect. We experience healings that may seem extraordinary, but that in reality are the divine law in operation.
Faith in God’s ability and willingness to meet our needs is an important ingredient in prayer. While showing and teaching his disciples how to heal, Jesus said if they had faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing would be impossible to them (See Matthew 17:20).
Faith and the expectancy of good played an important role in a healing I had when I was 16 months old. A few days before Christmas, I became quite ill and was unable to retain food. My father asked on Christmas Eve day that my mother take me to a physician.
Though the physician did not prescribe anything, he said I would need to be hospitalized if there wasn’t improvement in short order. After leaving his office, my mother called a Christian Science practitioner and conveyed the physician’s concern.
The practitioner vigilantly prayed, expecting a healing result. By the time our extended family arrived for a Christmas Eve gathering that afternoon, I was completely healed. The caring doctor called that evening to check on me. He was astounded to hear that I was entirely free of the illness and that I was gleefully running around. There had been no period of recuperation. It seemed like a small miracle.
We don’t need to think of God’s healing power – seen in biblical or modern times – as mysterious, random, or miraculous. Such healings represent the grace of God. That grace doesn’t wane, nor is it available only to certain people. It’s a Christmas gift each of us can unwrap.