“It doesn’t matter what the material senses say.” That thought occurred to me in the middle of the night as, once again, I was awake wrestling with the physical dilemmas facing me, some going back a number of years. The symptoms were varied and sometimes debilitating. On occasion I felt so ill all I could do was lie on the couch declaring that God is my life.
Some of the physical issues had disappeared through prayer—and they were pretty scary ones to be honest. But others had not gone away. As I lay awake going over the list of things that were still wrong, and also things that had been healed, I wondered if I’d ever regain my health completely.
That divine message in the night, which seemed to come out of nowhere, stopped my mental turmoil and calmed me so I could consider what it really meant. Of course, I knew what it meant—that God, Spirit, is All. That He made me, and, therefore, my substance is spiritual and perfect. Not, as it seemed, material and prone to malfunction. These are truths I had learned in Christian Science and prayed with many times.
I had faced other challenges, some just as disheartening as these, though the particulars were different. And prayer had never failed to bring healing. So I knew I had to pay very close attention to that message.
Right on the heels of it, the word perseverance occurred to me. I flipped on the light, got out my copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, and found that in a paragraph with the marginal heading “Qualities of thought,” Mary Baker Eddy states, “In the figurative transmission from the divine thought to the human, diligence, promptness, and perseverance are likened to ‘the cattle upon a thousand hills.’ They carry the baggage of stern resolve, and keep pace with highest purpose” (p. 514).
A creator who is both all-powerful and divinely intelligent would never create me prone to disease or deterioration.
I saw that in order to truly know God, and to know ourselves as His loved idea, we must cultivate these qualities. We must be diligent in understanding and accepting the truth that we are the creation of divine Mind, which is the only intelligence. And we have to be persevering in doing so. It seemed logical to me that a creator who is both all-powerful and divinely intelligent would never create me prone to disease or deterioration. To do so would certainly not be concordant with divine Love, another synonym for God (see Science and Health, p. 465).
In my study of these two words—diligence and perseverance—I found something that surprised me. One of the theological definitions of perseverance is “continuance in a state of grace.”
In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul speaks, too, of the need for perseverance when resisting evil. He says, “Take unto you the whole armour of God, … . Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth,” and “above all, [take] the shield of faith.”And later, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication” (6:13–18). Other translations of this passage counsel that we should keep alert, as well as persistent.
When I coupled that wonderful idea about continuing in a state of grace with all else Paul says about effective prayer, I understood his directive to mean that our prayers must occur within a state of consciousness that knows only God’s presence, His thoughts, His reality.
As I, day by day, made sure that I was listening only to God, and was alert to put out from thought any suggestion that I was anything but whole and perfect, I did feel at peace. I did trust His care and guidance. Plus, I glimpsed wonderful new truths about God, His creation, and about myself. As a result, the symptoms lessened over a period of months until they were gone, and I regained my health.
We don’t have to fear or quail before the testimony of the material senses, no matter how small or large or numerous the problems seem to be. God made us, loves us, provides for us, and keeps us safe. We need to let God be God and allow His truth to be the only reality we know. This is the continuance in grace that heals anything.
Virginia Slachman has been a college English professor for 20 years. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.