Why spiritual healing?
In an age where medical care is apparently more accessible and more sophisticated than ever before, why would someone be interested in spiritual healing as Jesus practiced it and as Christian Science carries it forward today? Why pray about a health issue when this often requires so much more of an individual than simply letting a doctor do the work or leaning on one’s health care insurance for medical treatment?
I grew up in a family where my dad’s best friend was an M.D. and my mom was studying Christian Science, so I gained firsthand knowledge of both approaches to healing. I felt a real love, and still do, for the physician who cared for me and my siblings when my dad wanted us to have medical care. But I also learned early on that doctors didn’t have all the answers and that there was much more to healing than pills. For example, when I had a bad case of strep throat, our family physician prescribed penicillin and bed rest. Two very painful weeks later, I returned to school and to my basketball team, but it took another two weeks before I was really back to myself.
When the same condition recurred the next winter, I turned to a friend of my mom’s who was a Christian Science practitioner. She didn’t check my temperature or ask about my body. She simply helped me understand more about God’s boundless love for me and my inseparability from this love. I recall feeling fear drain away as she prayed for me, replaced by a closeness to God I had never known before. When I leaped out of bed the next day, I was not just well: I felt different inside—less fearful, less vulnerable to disease. And I felt a deep desire to know more about God and about myself as God’s loved, spiritual, disease-free image and likeness. I had glimpsed the deeper “why” of spiritual healing.
At the time, I was profoundly grateful to be spared the same kind of suffering I had experienced the winter before. But looking back, I see that so much more began to happen in my life as the result of this and other spiritual healings that occurred so naturally as I delved into Christian Science. While the side effects of medical treatment are often dangerous and debilitating—and are coming under increasing scrutiny by society—the ripple effects of spiritual healing are all profoundly positive. You begin to see yourself and everything in life differently once you glimpse the spiritual possibilities of life embedded in Christ Jesus’ teachings. As the Apostle Paul put it, “If anyone is in Christ, … everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (II Corinthians 5:17, New Revised Standard Version).
Describing the ripple effects of her own turning-point healing after decades of suffering, Mary Baker Eddy writes in her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection, “The divine hand led me into a new world of light and Life, a fresh universe …” (p. 27). It’s this new universe and the divine laws governing it that she would prove beyond question as a Christian healer, and articulate for the world in her major work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. “When we realize that Life is Spirit, never in nor of matter, this understanding will expand into self-completeness, finding all in God, good, and needing no other consciousness,” she writes (Science and Health, p. 264).
There’s nothing that can stop the dawning of Truth in human consciousness and in our individual practice of this Science.
Christian Science is not just another form of health care. Students of this Science are not simply trying to do what conventional medicine is doing but without drugs and surgery. They are committed to understanding and proving all that Jesus taught about the purely spiritual nature of God and creation, and our place in this creation as God’s blessed children. And Christian Scientists feel genuinely humble about their practice of spiritual healing. Not every case is healed quickly, and persistence and patience are often needed when a condition doesn’t immediately respond to prayer.
The healing method Jesus taught comes with both a promise and a demand. It’s the promise of experiencing the “more abundant” spiritual life (see John 10:10) he illustrated throughout his whole career, healing multitudes, redeeming lives from sensuality and sadness, and opening up the way to eternal life. And it’s the demand of staying the course he laid out so clearly when he said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me” (John 14:6, New Century Version). This may sound exclusive to the modern ear, so accustomed are we to having lots of options, especially when it comes to health care in the 21st century. Is it possible that the Christ-cure Jesus taught centuries ago remains not only the most advanced form of healing on earth, but also the very pathway to understanding and experiencing the deathless universe of Spirit?
“Metaphysical healing, or Christian Science, is a demand of the times,” Mrs. Eddy wrote over a century ago. “Every man and every woman would desire and demand it, if he and she knew its infinite value and firm basis” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 232). Her discovery of the Science of Christian healing launched a revolution in thought that is still going on, still proving that Jesus’ method of healing is timeless, and practical in every age. Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide have experienced spiritual healing, and many of their accounts have been published in this and other Christian Science magazines and shared at testimony meetings in Churches of Christ, Scientist. Chronic conditions have been definitively healed. Terminal illnesses reversed. Genetic illness overturned. Contagions stopped.
Not surprisingly, there’s been some pushback along the way. Mrs. Eddy described it in Science and Health as the “materialism and sensualism of the age, struggling against the advancing spiritual era” (p. 65). But there’s nothing that can stop the dawning of Truth in human consciousness and in our individual practice of this Science. Though Jesus encountered narrow-mindedness and animosity, the enlightening power of the Christ, Truth, went forward untouched and undeterred. The struggles we sometimes feel within when practicing spiritual healing today may echo Jesus’ own struggle on the eve of his crucifixion, when he prayed to not have to go through that trial. But he went on to prove that by laying down self-will and trusting God completely, he was fully blessed and protected. Jesus’ story didn’t end on the cross. And Christian Science isn’t coming to a close.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). His words speak to the unstoppable power of the Christ, God’s forever manifestation of Truth and Love awakening humanity to the reality of life as spiritual. The eternal Christ is supporting every uplifted thought and prayer we have each day. We feel the Christ-love lifting us up mentally and spiritually when our own crosses seem too heavy to bear. The light of Christ illumines our thought during the midnight hours. And the tender Christ meets us “on the shore of time” (Science and Health, p. 35) and patiently counsels us to “cast [your] net on the right side … and ye shall find” (John 21:6). That is, launch out into the depths of everything I have taught and shown you about the spiritual substance of life and identity.
This priceless revelation of spiritual life here and now is why so many thoughtful people remain committed to Christian Science and to the practice of spiritual healing today. And why they are willing to persist in proving “its infinite value and firm basis.”
Guest Editorial Writer