Many of us have probably felt at some point that we couldn't overcome an especially challenging situation. Maybe illness threatened our health or the health of someone close to us. We may have yearned for consolation, wishing that someone would comfort us.
Whom can we call when things seem beyond hope and we feel alone? What comfort is at hand? The Bible points us in the most helpful direction. For example, we can learn a lot from what John's Gospel tells us about Christ Jesus' healing of Lazarus.
In spite of the fact that his sisters, Mary and Martha, had sent word to Jesus, telling him of their brother's illness, Lazarus died. Jesus arrived four days later. When the Master asked where Lazarus was laid, Mary and those who were with her said, "Lord, come and see." Maybe they wanted the Master to share in the sadness of the time and to see Lazarus's final resting place. But Jesus had a different perception of the situation. Earlier, referring to Lazarus's death, he had told his disciples he was going to waken him out of sleep, and he still had every intention of doing just that. Giving thanks to God, Jesus called Lazarus from the grave, and he came out alive.
How did Jesus restore his friend? It seems evident that he looked to God for his information about Lazarus's true condition, beyond what appeared obvious to the physical senses. The Bible in Genesis says that "God created man in his own image." And the Psalmist gives thanks to God, saying, "With thee is the fountain of life." Because God is man's actual source, his very Life, Jesus looked with spiritual sense to divine Science. He looked to an understanding of God, Spirit, to show him what was true about Lazarus. This was the basis of the Master's healing works, a basis that still provides comfort and concrete healing today, even if our own proofs seem modest in comparison.
Healing through prayer involves gaining a clearer understanding of our real nature as the image and likeness of God, spiritually whole.
In the nineteenth century, Mrs. Eddy, a devout student of the Bible, discovered the Science that underlay Jesus' works. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she brings out that God can be understood in the way that the Scriptures describe Him—as Spirit, Life, Truth, Love—and that God maintains the spiritual perfection of man as His own image. She writes of Jesus' healing method: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick."
Healing through prayer involves gaining a clearer understanding of our real nature as the image and likeness of God, spiritually whole. The healing, then, really occurs in thought even though one result is improved physical health. So when we seek healing of sickness or disease, in a sense what we really are asking for is a better understanding of our true being.
How can we gain this understanding? Certainly it's important to begin to accept the fact that the physical senses simply don't tell us about who we really are. Science and Health asks: "Is God's image or likeness matter, or a mortal, sin, sickness, and death? ... Can the material senses, which receive no direct evidence of Spirit, give correct testimony as to spiritual life, truth, and love?" In response the textbook affirms, "The answer to all these questions must forever be in the negative."
A perception of this fact played a significant role in a healing in our family. My son had some swelling on part of his body. I prayed to discern his true selfhood as God's likeness, trusting that a correct view of the boy would open the way to healing. I also decided to call a Christian Science practitioner and ask him to pray for our son. The practitioner spoke briefly about man's true, spiritual existence as God's perfect child, and he agreed to pray.
From the time the call for help was made, the boy was plainly more at ease, and he played freely. There also was a change in how I thought about him. I was less fearful and prayed with fresh conviction to understand that the boy's real, spiritual being was whole and healthy because God made him so. I began to glimpse more clearly the spiritual significance of man's being as God's child, His image.
My growing understanding that as God's image the boy expressed God's wholeness led me to realize that our son was tenderly held in God's loving embrace and was kept spiritually whole and healthy. Within a day the condition disappeared, and the boy was completely well.
Through prayer we're all able to call on Christ, Truth, the divine healing influence, to come to us and help us see that the real being of every individual is always whole, the image of the one God, who is eternal Life. Christ can improve our sense of life and health, no matter what difficulty we face. The divine influence is here, to comfort and to heal.
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