The other day I was browsing through an issue of Time Magazine from 30-years ago. It took me back to a year when cutting-edge products such as electric typewriters and telephone answering machines were “sure-fire, can’t-miss” gifts for Christmas.
At the back of the magazine I found a sobering essay titled ‘Our Health-Care Disgrace.’ It was a snapshot of the state of health care in the U.S. As the title suggests it was in grim shape in 1990. The nation spent 600 billion dollars on health care that year. Bad news back then.
Worse news today: the annual cost is over 3.6 trillion. Yet despite spending more on health care than any other country, life expectancy in America today ranks 33rd out of 36 countries in the world.
The dire picture painted by this essay figured into a discussion on health care published a month later in the Christian Science Sentinel. Several practitioners and teachers of Christian Science sat down with the magazine’s editorial team to discuss society’s approach to health and to bring much-needed light to a very different perspective on it, one that has a long history of saving lives, healing physical ailments, and that is grounded on an understanding of God. Welcome news.
To me, it doesn’t make sense to think of God as having a powerful healing effect on human lives all the way back to ancient times, but being of no practical value, or not meriting any attention, when it comes to matters of health today. Why is that?
When I read surveys that show the public gradually distancing itself from religion, I begin to wonder how much of that is contributing to a sadly uninformed citizenry, convinced that health care is confined to conventional medical methods. When those methods fail to meet people’s needs, as they apparently have, then what? Maybe we’re being forced to look for answers in a different direction entirely.
Let’s take a look back, to the Scriptures. They include many names for God, names that translate to who and what people have turned to over the centuries for moral and physical healing, for direction, comfort, and strength. God is called Creator, Light, the Almighty, Holy Spirit, the source of wisdom, inspiration, life, love, and a name Christ Jesus used often — Father, his and ours. Jesus’ profound understanding of God and of man’s true nature as God’s likeness, purely spiritual and good, is carried forward in his teachings.
Jesus wanted us to live grand and healthy lives and knew that we would if we were faithful to his teachings and to his life. Christian living is abundant and healthy, as he said it would be. “He that believeth on me,” Jesus said, “the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12). He healed fever, blindness, lameness, paralysis, deafness, hunger, and was a redeeming influence on sinners.
As I look again at the discussion in the Sentinel, the contributors are pointing out the spiritual laws that underlay Jesus’ healing works, laws derived from God, from divine Truth and Love, laws that are explained in Christian Science and that are the basis of its healing work. I’m certain of that potential. Over the years, I’ve found Christian Science to be quick and effective in healing common ailments, as well as a couple of severely painful and incapacitating conditions I experienced. I know its effectiveness. I give full credit for that to the spiritual understanding I’ve gained through Christian Science.
Still, as much as I value that understanding and how it has benefited me, my heart goes out to the urgent need for better health in the lives of so many others. It makes me wonder what difference an individual can make on such a grand scale.
At first, it’s unclear what more I can do. But in a few moments, I find myself praying, affirming what I know of God’s infinite goodness, God’s wisdom, and God’s unconditional love for every one of His children. I’m reminded of St. Paul’s words that nothing “can separate us from the love of God” (Rom 8:39). The same must be true for the intelligence and creativity and power that come from God. It’s all here, equally, for everyone.
I ask again, what is my role?
An unexpected answer comes. A series of questions, actually. They were written by Mary Baker Eddy in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She asks: “What is the model before mortal mind? Is it imperfection, joy, sorrow, sin, suffering?” (If those choices had boxes next to them, I would have checked several, especially suffering.)
Then she asks: “Have you accepted the mortal model? Are you reproducing it?” Admittedly I had. I’d been gazing at a picture of widespread suffering, reproducing the problem over and over in my mind.
But as I continued reading her words, I felt a shift taking place. “To remedy this,” the author says, “we must first turn our gaze in the right direction, and then walk that way. We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives.”
That’s what I needed to do. I’d been staring rather helplessly at statistics regarding decades of suffering. If I expected to see a change, I first had to make a course-correction in my own thinking.
Forming perfect models in thought and looking at them continually is the right direction. Those thought-models include unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, and love. By looking at them continually, refusing to be overcome by the claims of evil, and letting those perfect models permeate my thought and govern my life, everyone will benefit. I’m improving the general mental atmosphere by living a life of greater goodness, greater love, greater peace and certainty. Quite naturally, fear and uncertainty, doubt and discouragement – which retard health rather than improve it — will diminish, until they disappear.
As I now see it, one person can make a significant difference in humanity’s search for better health. Living a life that’s more and more Christ-like is a light that burns brighter and brighter. Jesus saw a huge potential for good in that bright life. He said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matt 5:16).
I now see clearly what my role is. And the grand opportunity to fulfil it.