‘It shall not come nigh thee’

When her daughter came home from school with symptoms of a contagious illness, a mother experienced how the idea that God holds all His children safe from harm lifted fear and opened the way for healing.  

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When a seemingly vicious flu-like condition passed through my children’s school district, my daughter came home from high school one day with the symptoms. As I helped her into bed, a most comforting poetic phrase I was familiar with came to mind: “It shall not come nigh thee” (Psalms 91:7).

I knew from experience that the Bible’s promises and words of guidance were not for ancient times alone, nor for only one particular group of people. Rather, God’s infinite ability to help applies to everyone, in all times.

So we immediately turned to God in prayer. This was a natural step to take for us because of the many healings our family has had over the years through reliance on an understanding of God.

I began by reading the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson, which consists of passages from the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy. The subject of that week’s Lesson was “Life.” Both my daughter and I were particularly moved by this verse: “O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong” (Daniel 10:19).

My daughter soon fell asleep peacefully. As she slept, I continued to pray.

One of the fundamental teachings of Christian Science is the Bible-based idea that we are made in the image and likeness of God. This God is not a physical being. Rather, God is Love, Truth, Mind, and Life – entirely spiritual and good. God’s love buoys us, guides us, and keeps us in His perfect way. And God loves us as His children with a limitless love, which is expressed in each of us.

Understanding God’s love has a practical impact. Mrs. Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, wrote an article called “Contagion,” found in her book “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896.” In it she ponders what would happen “if only the people would believe that good is more contagious than evil, since God is omnipresence,” and “if only the pulpit would encourage faith in God in this direction, and faith in Mind over all other influences governing the receptivity of the body.”

And she concludes, “The confidence of mankind in contagious disease would thus become beautifully less; and in the same proportion would faith in the power of God to heal and to save mankind increase, until the whole human race would become healthier, holier, happier, and longer lived” (p. 229).

What a promise, and it has a profound basis. The only thing truly “contagious” in God’s kingdom is goodness, because anything unlike good is not of God. Therefore illness has no legitimacy and cannot exist in God’s children. I found a sense of freedom in this idea that my daughter and her fellow classmates could not truly “catch” anything but good from one another.

To me, the beauty of prayer is that it tends to fill my consciousness with God’s light and love. As this happens, the problem no longer feels frightening or insurmountable. Instead, it loses its power to grip me with fear or helplessness, because I see more clearly that the problem is actually not part of our true, spiritual being. And this opens the way to experiencing tangible healing.

This is what happened that night. As I glimpsed the perfection of God’s creation, including my daughter’s spiritual individuality as God’s daughter, I saw the inability of disease of any kind to be transmitted from one child of God to another. I felt a renewed sense of confidence in God’s ability and promise to keep us safe. And not just me, or my household, but everyone.

When my daughter awoke the next morning, she was completely well – so much so that she was welcomed back at school. No one else in our house was infected. Furthermore, there was a very marked turnaround in the situation at large that I was thankful for.

I appreciated the many who were helping care for our community during this time, whether through prayers or in other ways. And I am especially grateful to have witnessed and felt something of God’s power and ability to help all. As the Psalmist wrote: “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (Psalms 91:10, 11).

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About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

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The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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