One moment I was in agony, and the next there was complete and lasting relief! What had happened?
Let me explain. I was on a business trip when I lost track of the time and of the angle of the sun while sitting by an outdoor pool. My legs were badly sunburned, and by that evening I could barely walk and had to shuffle along.
Later that night I awoke in extreme pain from the burn. So, I did something I’d often found helpful before when I’d had a problem: I turned in prayer to God as my “very present help in trouble,” as the Bible says (Psalms 46:1).
As I did, a radical thought came to me: I was not trapped in a material body that had been badly burned. The idea that living in a material body was not the true state of existence was so contrary to what I was feeling at that moment that I felt convinced this was an inspired insight from God, coming to me as an answer to my prayer. And in that moment in which this idea was dawning on me, the heat, stiffness, and pain all went away.
A fundamental shift had taken place in my thinking from the common conception that our true identity is in matter to a knowledge of what Christian Science teaches is our real, spiritual nature. And this had brought healing right away. The next day I was able to comfortably drive and attend meetings and enjoy some social time; there simply was no evidence of, or aftereffects of, sunburn.
This was several decades ago, and in all the subsequent years, I’ve never had another sunburn, even after exposure to the sun.
While I was overjoyed by this healing, it did not seem miraculous to me, but simply an example of the healing that results naturally when thought experiences a profound shift from a sense of life as material and mortal to an awareness that existence is spiritual, created and sustained by God, divine Spirit. (Accounts like this have been published in sister publications of this newspaper for well over a century. See, for instance, a testimony of healing my husband and I shared a while back in The Christian Science Journal.)
Healings like this are not the result of willful maneuvering of thought, or the acrobatics of the human mind trying to convince itself it isn’t injured. Healings are a holy realization and experience of God being with us. They are the touch of the Christ – the light and love of God, which Jesus expressed, operating in human consciousness.
Feeling this touch of Christ has the effect of freeing us from suffering. And it is possible for that freedom to come about in a single moment even if a problem has been around for some time. As the primary work by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, puts it: “Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, – neither in nor of matter, – and the body will then utter no complaints. If suffering from a belief in sickness, you will find yourself suddenly well” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 14).
This statement explains what happened to me. In that single moment of reaching out to God, I suddenly realized so clearly that confinement in a material body subject to the effects of being badly burned just wasn’t the true “me.” No amount of human reasoning could have led me to that conclusion. God had revealed it to me – and I’ve come to understand that God is always revealing such spiritually insightful ideas to all of us.
Our part is to open our heart to these ideas and accept the spiritual truth of our being. As the Bible says, “In him [divine Spirit] we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). And this understanding heals, sometimes so quickly that it actually takes longer to explain what happened than to experience it.
Such healing is not the exclusive right of a faithful few or a gift for a specially endowed elite. It is a divine right that belongs to all. Anyone willing to turn to God for healing can begin to learn of their real spiritual nature as good, whole, and pure. It’s not a process of becoming something different, but awakening to what we actually are as God’s beloved children; it comes from striving to get the facts from God, divine Truth, and being willing to live from their basis.
When we do that, we can each experience – even instantly – the freedom and harmony that are forever ours as God’s children.