The Healing at Zarephath

The student of Christian Science finds much of interest in the experience of Elijah at Zarephath, as recorded in the seventeenth chapter of I Kings, because he has learned to analyze any incident related in the Scriptures in order to find its deeper meanings; and so he sees that the restoration to life of the widow's son was by no means all that was accomplished on that memorable occasion.

The story is familiar to all, telling as it does how Elijah, after destroying in time of famine a sense of lack in the consciousness of this same woman of Zarephath, was later called to prove to her the omnipotence of ever present Life. For her son had fallen sick, and to human sense was dead. She turned to Elijah in her need, crying out, "What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?"

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"To call my sin to remembrance"! That is what arrests the attention of the student. What sin? The record does not state. But, in her despair, the woman may have been believing that which much of humanity believes today, namely, that for her sin, whatever it was, an innocent child must pay the penalty.

But the man of God knew better. One can almost picture the tender compassion which must have shone in his eyes as he quietly said, "Give me thy son." This was no time for rebuke, no time for argument, but for healing action. He simply took the boy from her arms and carried him into that realm of true thought where he abode, where the mesmerism of the weeping mother, holding to that which she believed she had created, was broken; and the child was soon restored to her, alive and well. Every Christian Scientist understands that the mother's thought needed to be lifted in bringing about the healing.

How often in this day and age a similar situation arises wherein the conviction is held that the innocent must suffer for the guilty! Medical lore has its own names for such beliefs, and there may be found many little or grown victims paying a penalty for "the sins of the fathers," because the world believes they must! But God knows no such false and cruel law. In fact, so-called law is not law at all unless it has spiritual power to enforce it; and assuredly there is no power in that which is so unlike the tender love of the great Father-Mother of all, who holds even the tiniest sparrow in safe remembrance. From this dear Father-Mother there are no dangerous inheritances. There is only good, and peace, and joy, and health, and happiness. "Yea," sang the Psalmist, "I have a goodly heritage"!

The widow at Zarephath did not understand this. She may have believed that she had done wrong and that her child must die—that may have been what she saw at the moment. But more was going on than the healing of her child. We may infer that there was in her own consciousness a stirring, a bringing to the surface of some error which may have been the cause of much unhappiness and self-condemnation, and that with the uncovering, the acknowledgment of error, its destruction began. For as Mary Baker Eddy writes in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 461), "Usually to admit that you are sick, renders your case less curable, while to recognize your sin, aids in destroying it."

If anyone reading these lines is laboring under the belief that in some indefinable way his welfare and happiness are irrevocably entangled with another, and forfeited, let him lift his head and take courage. Divine Love decrees no vicarious atonement or penalty for sin; nor is there, in God's sight, any human scapegoat turned out into the wilderness of darkness and despair, and bearing the burden of another's mistake. God knows only the man of His own creating, free, untouched by error, untrammeled, uncontaminated, undefiled, forever separate from any false suggestion which would acclaim him to be anything less than the perfect child of God, the beloved son, in whom He is well pleased.

Something of this may have been glimpsed by that mother of long ago, as she took her child again from the arms of Elijah. "See, thy son liveth" was all he said; yet he must have known what else had happened, just as the Christian Science practitioner of today knows that much more is often accomplished in the course of a healing than the patient may at the time realize. Elijah no doubt understood that his work for the lad had also touched the consciousness of the mother, and that her thought had changed since last she spoke. Gone were the bitterness, the challenge of her first greeting. With new-found humility she said, "By this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth." He knew that the seed of truth had been planted in her consciousness, and that in God's own time and way it would bring forth the rich fruitage of righteousness and joy, of quietness and peace.

Our Present Existence Illumined
December 10, 1932

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