Healing through enlightened faith
"By faith," the book of Hebrews reports, "Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." Although he did not fully know his destination, "he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." Heb. 11:8, 10; Abraham's faith in God involved a forward-looking readiness to be better acquainted with Him—to understand Him more fully.
Faith in God is a strong moral quality derived from Him, and it can always be increased. Any degree of enlightened faith in the supreme and governing power is salutary. Faith blossoms into spiritual understanding as one prays for more spiritual light—as Abraham did.
Every recent & archive issue
Podcasts & article audio
Mary Baker Eddy bios & audio
Every recent & archive issue
Podcasts & article audio
Mary Baker Eddy bios & audio
In its lower sense faith may rest in a person, in a material remedy, or in some other thing or physical circumstance. A material reliance does not lead one to spiritual healing or impel spiritual growth. Neither is it related to the Christian practice of Christ Jesus and his followers, who looked solely to God for healing. Faith in material things tends to deepen one's belief in matter, perhaps in the hope that matter will give him, at least temporarily, happiness and security.
In its more spiritual sense, faith is trust in a Supreme Being. Mankind in general, and each individual in particular, has an urgent need for spirituality. Faith in God's existence and power opens the way, as thought is spiritually enlightened, to a more satisfying life. The apostles of Christ Jesus, on one occasion, implored him to increase their faith. And he did so, but more by his works than by his words. "Faith," the Epistle of James reminds us, "without works is dead." James 2:20;
Jesus said on several occasions that it was the faith of an ailing one that healed him. Perhaps this was only a childlike acceptance that God's supreme healing power was present, but it is clear that more than a blind faith was involved. Certainly Jesus' spiritual understanding of real being had its healing effect in these cases. Jesus had absolute faith in God. He had a spiritual knowledge of the ever-present Father of man and of man's perfect likeness to his infinite Parent. It seems obvious from the gospel accounts that the spiritual atmosphere of Jesus' ministry healed those who were receptive, sometimes without any audible voicing of a word of truth by the Master.
Faith in God is an essential quality in Christian healing. This faith, to be effective, should be more than mere belief or blind trust in Him. Christian Science honors faith—recognizes its place in Christian practice. But it teaches that there must be progressively developed a spiritual comprehension of God's flawless nature and of man's relationship to Him as His perfect representation.
Mrs. Eddy explains, "Christian Science is not a remedy of faith alone, but combines faith with understanding, through which we may touch the hem of His garment; and know that omnipotence has all power." Miscellaneous Writings, p. 97; Today Christian Science is showing by its works what can be done through the enlightenment of one's faith in God together with the development of a spiritual understanding of Him as infinite Life, Truth, and Love.
As one recognizes God as the source of all good, he understands health to be a spiritual condition, given of God—an all-pervading fact included in man's expression of God and demonstrably operative in our lives today. Since God is the cause of all that truly exists, all reality is necessarily good. Each individual, being truly God's expression, has the right and authority even now to begin accepting and enjoying God's perfect nature—accepting not only health as ever present and spiritual but also such other qualities as intelligence, love, harmony, purity, joy, and strength. God's fullness is truly represented in man—utterly excluding all that is mortal and material.
Pure faith, even when minuscule, has its place in every case of Christian healing. This faith causes one to accept as fact that God is at hand to heal. It may well lead one, even before he knows of Christian Science, to the rejection or abandonment of conventional treatment and to reliance on God for help. In this way one's thought is readied for spiritual healing. And the healing may come through his own enlightened faith, in a moment of quiet communion with God, whom he desires to know better. As he draws closer to God in prayer and gains even a slight understanding of God's love and care for him, he may naturally experience what is known as Christian healing.
When one earnestly reaches out to God for help, he may be guided to call on another who has a deeper and more enlightened understanding of God and man to work with him. The Bible encourages the sick to turn to the elders of the church and to let them pray over him. See James 5:14; In Christian Science healing, practitioners give this aid. And it is not unusual for Scientists to call each other for assistance in strengthening their faith and in helping them on their way to a Christian healing through prayer.
Both moral and spiritual qualities are needed in the Christian healing work. Mrs. Eddy points out in Science and Health, "The moral and spiritual facts of health, whispered into thought, produce very direct and marked effects on the body." Science and Health, p. 370; We are healed, blessed, and saved as these facts are pondered and utilized. One who has a correct but perhaps merely literal understanding of God and His universe of Spirit would be deficient as a healer without that lovely moral quality of faith. Healings follow when both faith and spiritual understanding operate together. Mrs. Eddy says, "Having faith in the divine Principle of health and spiritually understanding God, sustains man under all circumstances; whereas the lower appeal to the general faith in material means (commonly called nature) must yield to the all-might of infinite Spirit." ibid., p. 319.
Godly faith is actually present, though perhaps dormant, in each one's consciousness. It is truly at hand to inspire one with a conviction of his inseparable relationship to God as his only source of life and being—his perfect source of health, harmony, security, and direction.
As a young man, when I had a great need for direction, I spontaneously turned to God. I felt impelled to enroll in a university for higher education, and did. However, I had little money. I joined the Christian Science college organization, which met near the campus. I had a feeling, based on faith, of God's hand in my life—of His control of my affairs. For several weeks my efforts to obtain part-time work were futile. But my faith in God was unshaken. One day when my funds were about exhausted, a casual acquaintance who knew nothing of my need called to me from across the street, "Do you know anyone who needs a job?" The result of this was very satisfactory work on the college campus, which enabled me to stay in school for several years.
In this situation I had more than innocent faith, although that was important. I understood that God was present with me wherever I went and that His guidance was operative everywhere and touched my life. I knew the truth and yielded to it, and the truth—God's governing presence—held to in trustful faith, guided and sustained me during my entire college career.
Faith, to be effective in one's life, requires assent to God's perfect, ever-present nature and significance. As faith is uplifted and illumined, it is found to be blended with its highest, absolute state, spiritual understanding. They act together to enrich life. Through the exercise of absolute faith the sick are healed, sin is destroyed, harmony is gained, and progress heavenward is made.
With faith such as Abraham had, we press for a deeper and more practical spiritual sense of God and of man's eternal unity with Him. Our faith can become progressively enlightened until we are clearly conscious of the presence of that holy and heavenly "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."