If a problem does not yield quickly to prayer, sometimes students of Christian Science struggle between total reliance on God for healing and seeking a medical option.
The textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, makes provision for temporal help when prayer has yet to reach its desired outcome. Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “If Christian Scientists ever fail to receive aid from other Scientists, — their brethren upon whom they may call, — God will still guide them into the right use of temporary and eternal means.”
She continues to point out, though, that temporal aid is what it is—temporal. And that all issues have to be ultimately resolved spiritually to bring genuine reformation from the inside out. She went on to state, “Step by step will those who trust Him find that ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.’” If one seeks temporal help, that is fine. People need to do what they think is the wisest thing to do under their circumstances. But it is most desirable to find permanent help in God to begin with, if possible, and not have to take a circuitous route to genuine healing.
One truth that helps break the mesmerism of unfulfilled prayer is to understand that the primary purpose of Christian Science is not to fix a material problem, but to reveal spiritual truth. Jesus Christ, the master healer of all time, taught, “Know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Disease is error of belief, and truth is its antidote. It’s knowledge, or understanding of Truth, God, that brings spiritual freedom from physical suffering.
A friend recently shared a story that highlighted the difference between a medical approach to healing and the method Jesus Christ taught.
She had been suffering from pneumonia for several days, and her condition was worsening. Despite dedicated prayer by herself and her family, the lie was not yielding. With the situation looking desperate, a couple of family members decided she needed to go to the hospital, and they pressed her to let them take her. She did not want to go, but something needed to change quickly or the picture was not going to be good.
When pressed again to seek medical help, suddenly a light went on in her thought. She bolted upright in her bed and declared, “A doctor cannot tell me anything about who I am as a child of God.”
She swiftly realized the distinction between a medical approach to healing and the Christian Science approach. The two are strikingly different. A medical doctor views a patient as a physical body and sees disease as a real condition that needs to be treated materially. Christian Science views man as spiritual, and in perfect health as God’s image and likeness. Disease is seen as illusion about God’s perfect man, and is cured by understanding the spiritual truth that dissolves the illusion.
The mesmerism of a “real disease” broke in my friend’s mind. She saw clearly that she was not physical, did not have a disease, and had all she needed coming from God right where she was at home. She couldn’t learn anything more about her true spiritual identity at a hospital then she could at home. The pneumonia broke and she was quickly and happily on her feet again, well.
This story is useful because it illustrates the difference between medical treatment and Christian Science treatment. It is also a red flag for examining how a student of Christian Science approaches healing.
If one views disease as a real condition that needs to be eliminated, efforts to heal it may feel hopeless and even in vain, and rightfully so, for it is the wrong approach. Disease is not a reality. It is an error of belief in the human mind. The belief that disease is real automatically puts thought in the medical camp to begin with, and thus leaves the mental door wide open to believing that the condition can only be resolved through material means.
As my friend realized, spiritual healing is about discovering who we spiritually are. Our spiritual individuality is healthy, well and secure in God’s image. This is an unchangeable fact and provable in the here and now of everyday experience. This truth dissolves the mortal mind lie of disease as being part of that individuality, and healing happens, first in thought, then in the body governed by that thought.