Healing’s deeper reward: Experiencing God
That Christian Science heals is attested to by a steady flow of healings of physical and mental illness, injuries, compulsive habits, etc. reported in the Sentinel. The Sentinel has been published for 123 years, so the healing accounts in this week’s issue add to many thousands of records of health restored.
But they record more than that. Each healing includes a shift in perspective—a thought turned Godward—that individually echoes the shift brought about for humanity by Christ Jesus. Through his spiritual discernment, his ever-present sense of God as his source—as Life and Truth itself—the blind regained sight, the lame walked, lepers were freed from the disease. Yet that pointed to something Jesus considered much more valuable. After his followers reported their experience of overcoming devils (evidences of evil), he said, “You should be happy, but not because the spirits obey you. You should be happy because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20, International Children’s Bible).
Gaining this higher sense of our “name” (our true nature) as God’s heavenly (spiritual and harmonious) offspring is a distinct feature of Christian healing, as Mary Baker Eddy explained. Referring to cures of disease and reformation of character achieved through the ever-existent divine Science she discovered, she said in her address Christian Science versus Pantheism, “All this is accomplished by the grace of God,—the effect of God understood” (p. 10 ).
If healing is the effect that comes with renewed spiritual understanding, it’s also fair to say that this understanding is itself the deeper gain that comes through a Christian Science healing. This stood out to me when a relative and a church friend living in the same part of London were both diagnosed with pneumonia at a local hospital. My relative was admitted to the hospital for medical care. My friend, whose diagnosis was at her family’s request, returned home, trusting the divine Science that had healed her for decades. She requested help from a Christian Science practitioner, who directly prayed for her, and a Christian Science nurse, who provided simple, practical care in support of the spiritual basis of that prayer.
I was so grateful that both my relative and my friend fully recovered.
But the restorative agent in my friend’s return to health was very different from that experienced by my relative. It was a spiritual breakthrough. My friend had a priceless moment of divine grace as she read the Bible and the Christian Science textbook (Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures). In that moment, her fear dissolved; she felt God’s presence as all-embracing, infinite Love; and she saw herself as God, Spirit, always sees each of us: spiritual, perfect, intact. It took faith and persistence to attain this moment of inspired understanding. But when it came, healing was immediate and complete. No recuperation period was needed (see Angela Wallace, “Healed of pneumonia,” Sentinel, April 6, 2009).
The restorative agent in my friend’s return to health was a spiritual breakthrough; she felt God’s presence.
Not every cure that comes through Christian Science is such a transcendent awakening to God’s ever-presence and our perfection as God’s creation. But all include some uncovering of the divine reality that the Bible reveals and the consequent awakening to the unreality of all that isn’t divine. In this way, Christian Science shines a light on existence as truly spiritual instead of material, and as very good (see Genesis 1:31 ) rather than invariably prone to evil.
This spiritual reality isn’t part of a complex mesh of Spirit and matter, but rather sets in motion the dissolution of the general conviction that matter is the basis of our existence, the source that would define us. Healing happens in a mental shift from misperceiving ourselves as material to discerning that we are solely what’s “written” (true) in the ever-present heaven of Spirit’s all-harmoniousness.
This idea of life being solely in Spirit, God, is Christ, the ever-present spiritual power exemplified in Jesus’ healings. Christ relieves bodily and mental suffering by uncovering the underlying health and peace that are the substance of our identity as Spirit’s expression.
Christ is lovingly communicating this divine reality to each individual, regardless of the method one chooses for healing, because God’s love is impartial. It is, however, hard to discern and yield to the divine truth of unending harmony when our hope is vested in something that’s intrinsically inharmonious, which is the case with all that’s material. As Science and Health explains, “Consciousness constructs a better body when faith in matter has been conquered. Correct material belief by spiritual understanding, and Spirit will form you anew” (p. 425 ).
Such Spirit-formed newness restores health by illuminating the transformative fact that everyone’s name is forever written in God’s heavenly kingdom of perpetual, spiritual goodness and grace.
Tony Lobl, Associate Editor