Spirituality and health care

A Christian Science perspective: The realization that health is the natural state of all of us – our divine right – brings healing.

Around the world, debate persists on how best to care for health needs and cover health-care costs. But it’s heartening to see reform gaining ground in one area in particular: a growing sensitivity on the part of health-care professionals to a patient’s faith and spiritual life. Some leading medical schools and teaching hospitals have been looking at how a patient’s mental and spiritual standpoint can be a major factor in health and healing. Individuals’ inner views of themselves and what they believe to be the role of the Divine in their lives are increasingly having an impact on the tone and tenor of treatment in the sickroom.

I can relate to this trend, because I have experienced many physical healings through gaining in my understanding of God.

A concept that is powerful to me is that God is Love, wholly good and merciful, and that divine Love does not cause pain or suffering. One time I was experiencing severe internal pain and irregularity. As I’ve done before when faced with illness, I prayed, lifting my thought to become aware of the ever-presence and power of divine Love, right there with me. Though it seemed my body was “shouting” at me in discomfort, fear began to give way. I realized that I could never be rendered defenseless, since God was my “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” as the Bible has it (Psalms 46:1).

The pain disappeared the next morning as I became more conscious of my true identity as God’s spiritual reflection or image, free from pain or inharmony. And the irregularity soon subsided, as I continued to base my prayers on divine Love’s all-protecting presence. The problem never returned.

More and more, I’ve come to see that God’s love is not just a comforting religious concept, as helpful as that can be in times of need. God’s love is expressed as an unchanging, spiritual law or divine rule that we can look to for healing. This law operates around the clock, and when we yield to it through consecrated prayer and spiritual understanding, healing comes.

Physical healing was an essential part of early Christianity as Christ Jesus and his followers practiced it. But rather than being miraculous, Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of Christian Science,­ found Jesus’ healing works were a demonstration of the timeless and universal law of God. Mrs. Eddy was a pioneer in understanding the impact of a patient’s mental and spiritual standpoint on health, and in her primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” she writes: “Let us banish sickness as an outlaw, and abide by the rule of perpetual harmony, – God’s law. It is man’s moral right to annul an unjust sentence, a sentence never inflicted by divine authority” (p. 381).

As public conversations about the role of spirituality in health care continue, these ideas can make a useful contribution. Increasingly, health can be seen as the natural state of all of us – a divine right given to us, in St. Paul’s words, by “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort” (II Corinthians 1:3).

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