What does love have to do with ending a pandemic?
If we’re feeling there’s little we can do to contribute to healing the world’s ills, it’s worth considering the power of love impelled by God, all-powerful divine Love itself.
By the time I arrived at my apartment, the only thing I could do was collapse on my bed. I was suffering from a variety of flu symptoms and desperately wanted to go to sleep. But before I did, I called my mom and asked her to pray for me.
This was nearly 25 years ago, and I don’t recall all the details of our conversation. I do remember, however, how comforted I felt as Mom assured me that I had been made in the image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:26, 27); that God, divine Spirit, was both the source and substance of my being; that God loved me.
Shortly after hanging up, I fell asleep. When I got up the next morning, I was completely well and have never since had the flu.
Looking at this experience in the context of the current pandemic, I’ve been asking myself if it’s not only a deeper appreciation of God’s love for us that holds the key to ridding the world of this disease, but also a more consistent commitment to love one another – that is, to be sure that our thoughts of others reflect God’s thought of us. Jesus said: “ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Matthew 22:37-39, New Living Translation).
The commitment to love others can be seen these days in the selflessness of frontline workers and the kindness of neighbors helping neighbors. Yet, how often do we think of such expressions of love as hinting at something even more powerful – powerful enough to bring about physical healing?
Jesus certainly proved through his healing of others that there’s a love higher than even the most unselfish human love, a love that mirrors God’s love for us: pure and constant. Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, wrote in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, – a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love” (p. 1).
Of course, it’s going to take a lot more than a group hug, no matter how heartfelt, to rid ourselves of something as challenging as a pandemic. But there’s value in recognizing the power and significance of Christly love that strives to see only the goodness that God, good, sees. After all, if “unselfed love” heals disease, then it stands to reason that any opposite state of mind, such as fear or hostility, would tend to have the opposite effect.
What’s required of us, then, is to not only acknowledge the supremacy of God, divine Love, but also to see others and ourselves as Love’s essential expression, naturally and inevitably inclined to love.
This isn’t always easy. For instance, there are times we may feel that someone or some circumstance has managed to deprive us of God’s goodness; that there’s some legitimate reason for our being unable to express all that God has given us to express, to enjoy all that He has given us to enjoy. When this happens, we face a crucial choice between accepting or rejecting the notion of a power opposed to God.
Ironically, it’s at moments like this that we are perhaps most receptive to Truth, a synonym for God that Mary Baker Eddy in her writings often couples with Christ. It’s this ever-present Christ – “the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness,” as Science and Health describes it (p. 332) – that reveals divine Love as the only true power.
It’s the Christ that inspires us to distinguish between what is and isn’t true about God and about all of us as God’s reflection; to love not just those who love us, but our so-called enemies as well; to become more conscious of the allness of that divine Love that heals, and as a result, to experience that healing love more tangibly.
Thinking back on my own healing so many years ago, I’m reminded that the conviction of God’s love for us is often what motivates our love for one another. And it’s our love for one another that opens the door more widely to feeling God’s love for us. This ceaseless cycle of Love inevitably lessens fear, dissolves hatred, and enables us to do our part in bringing an end to this pandemic.
Adapted from an editorial published in the July 13, 2020, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.
Editor’s note: As a public service, all the Monitor’s coronavirus coverage is free, including articles from this column. There’s also a special free section of JSH-Online.com on a healing response to the global pandemic. There is no paywall for any of this coverage.