My friend laughed as she described the disaster of the soup. Her family's favorite meal was gumbo, a thick spicy soup including seafood, vegetables, and rice. She had spent the day preparing it, adding just the right seasonings and enjoying the savory atmosphere as it simmered on the stove. But shortly before the meal, her husband, in anticipation and an impulsive desire to help, added a can of sardines to the soup. Unfortunately, from that moment on, the entire pot of soup tasted like sardines. For them the soup was inedible, and the evening meal was scrambled eggs.
I laughed with her. But at the same time I was reminded of a spiritual healing that had almost been spoiled by an undesirable ingredient. I thought I had been quickly and completely healed of an illness through prayer in Christian Science. But an occasional abdominal spasm lingered that was very uncomfortable. During this time I took a walk, rejoicing in the beauty of the area and feeling immense gratitude for the improvement, when suddenly the sharp pain again reminded me the healing was not complete.
For a few moments I stood still, prayerfully listening for inspiration. Quietly into my thought came the word malpractice. Instantly, the pain vanished and never returned. What had happened? The major part of the healing had already been accomplished through prayerful affirmation of the perfection of God and His likeness, man. Then, like sardines in the soup, a thought foreign to spiritual healing had come. It threatened to prevent the completeness of the healing. In this instance, I didn't feel I was dealing with malpractice in the sense of a specific evil directed toward me. Rather, it was the impersonal resistance of materialism to the practice of spiritual healing and the demonstration of man's God-given perfection. It was an attack against the efficacy and thoroughness of prayer.