Jellyfish of all sorts live in the world’s oceans, and extending from their bodies are tentacles with many little stinging cells. When food, such as a fish or crustacean, brushes against the tentacles, little darts in the cells impale the prey. These stinging cells can be used only once, after which the jellyfish must grow new ones.
One day while scuba diving, I swam through a very beautiful jellyfish’s tentacle and got stung up and down my right forearm. It hurt quite a bit, and I saw on my arm the distinct line of stings. When I got to the surface and removed my diving gear, my arm was more swollen and the line of stings more pronounced.
I had driven a car to that spot on the shore, and as I was driving back I prayed for myself, something I’ve found helpful so many times. Often when I pray, I like to just quietly be conscious of God’s tangible presence, and God reveals inspiring ideas that bring a completely new light to whatever might be troubling me. It’s a gentle, loving activity, and I can feel God’s power behind it.
Here is what happened that day as I prayed. As I was turning right at a corner, an idea struck me: Because I’d brushed against its tentacle, I’d made the jellyfish use up many of the stinging cells it needed to get its food. All of a sudden – and this may sound funny – I felt sorry for what I’d unintentionally done to this jellyfish, and also felt such love for it. It was a sincere love, like the kind I would feel for a child. I knew that this love was simply a reflection of the deep love God has for His creation.
Then, as I finished turning that corner and straightened out the car, I saw that the line of stings was completely gone from that arm. The skin was perfectly smooth and clear, just like the skin on my other arm. I was entirely healed in that instant. And as a side note, from that day forward, whenever I have brushed against any jellyfish tentacles or fire coral, I have had no reaction at all.
As you can imagine, this was one of those life experiences that really got me thinking. I know from reading the Bible that God is Love (see I John 4:16). That day, it was the power and presence of the Love that is God that completely changed my perspective, and healing was the result. The book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, explains how this divine Love operates in our lives. It says, “Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way” (p. 454).
This Love continues to inspire and lead me in new ways of thinking. I have begun to see more clearly that when we get stung – not just by jellyfish, but by people’s acts, or maybe by our life circumstances – we can prayerfully behold God’s deep, cleansing love for all. When honestly, humbly embraced, God’s love thoroughly transforms us. No wonder Jesus counseled, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
It would be so nice if I could say that since my healing of the jellyfish sting, I have always responded to people’s stings in this Christian manner, feeling and acknowledging God’s love for them. I haven’t. But you know what? There are many times when I have! And I’m finding that a devotion to expressing God’s love in response to someone’s stinging offense, intentional or not, makes it possible to have more control over how we feel, supporting a healing of the situation by preventing us from reacting to the stings in the first place.
“Keep yourselves in the love of God,” says the Bible (Jude 1:21). Keeping our thoughts and actions immersed in God’s ever-present love is a powerful force for good, bringing healing one sting at a time.
Adapted from an article published in the April 15, 2019, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.