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The question of time and healing

From the June 2017 issue of The Christian Science Journal

When we’re feeling happy and good things are happening, we may feel that we want time to stand still, and yet it seems to fly by all too quickly. If we’re facing hardships or feeling discouraged or frustrated, time can seem to move at a snail’s pace and feel like a dead weight. Many people recognize that time is a human invention, a convenience for ordering our lives, for tracking activities and events. But that doesn’t keep us from very often feeling bound by it.

When I started attending a Christian Science Sunday School as a child, I was deeply impressed with the healings in the Bible, especially Christ Jesus’ healings: Nearly all of them came immediately or very quickly. “Why was that?” I wondered.

I came to see that Jesus’ pure understanding of God and of his relation to God as His Son, coupled with a life imbued with a love for humanity, so completely eclipsed the fear, darkness, and downward pull of sin, sickness, and even death, that goodness, health, and holiness naturally came to be seen and felt. With this, I began to realize that whether healings come quickly or slowly, time isn’t a factor in them. What truly matters—what in fact is absolutely necessary—is a change of thought from materiality to spiritual Truth. And though this mental and spiritual transformation may take diligent as well as patient prayer, it never requires time.

When Jesus’ disciples once asked him why he spoke in parables, he said: “This people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matthew 13:15). Doesn’t this indicate that the Christ, Truth, is at every moment present to penetrate whatever material dullness of thought would keep us from receiving the healing, and thereby bring out the realness, certainty, and wholeness of divine goodness and life—right where the problem seems to be, and right now?

As we pray, a clearer glimpse of God’s pure, all-good, loving nature, and of our own nature as His spiritual reflection, can emerge at any moment and bring healing. The Apostle Paul highlighted this when he wrote, as paraphrased in The Message: “Now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off” (II Corinthians 6:2, Eugene Peterson). 

We’re always thinking. And although at times it might take persistence to yield material thoughts for those that are more spiritual, it certainly requires no more time to think a true, spiritual thought than to entertain a false, limiting, or material one. Every moment we have a choice about what we allow ourselves to mentally entertain. So the question for us becomes, What are we paying attention to—what are we seeing, acknowledging, and accepting as real, powerful, and true here and now?

As we pray, a clearer glimpse of God’s pure, loving nature, and of our own nature as His reflection, can emerge at any moment and bring healing.

A couple of years ago, I had an experience that brought these ideas into bold relief and showed me the powerlessness of the mortal measurement called time. I was having my teeth cleaned when the dental hygienist expressed concern about symptoms of gum disease in one part of my mouth. I had felt discomfort in that area in recent weeks, and with some alarm she said that I should come back for a more invasive cleaning as soon as possible, along with coming in more frequently for regular cleanings. 

At that moment, several thoughts came to me. One was, “You’re facing a major problem here, and it is likely going to take a lot of spiritual study and prayer to heal.” But right on its heels came an upbeat and gentle thought: “What are you waiting for? You can pray about this right now.”

So I turned away from focusing on the hygienist’s assessment and toward God, listening for His loving message. That week’s Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly was on the subject “Matter.” This passage had stood out to me: “Matter is an error of statement. This error in the premise leads to errors in the conclusion in every statement into which it enters” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 277). I reasoned that since matter is “an error of statement,” it is not a thing, or an opposite to or a different kind of substance than divine Spirit. It’s just a mistaken concept. 

How do you counteract an error, a mistaken concept? With the truth. What is the truth? It’s that all is Spirit, God, and there is no matter—no opposite to Spirit, no counterfeit or inharmonious substance. Spirit is All, and it is good, pure, and perfect. So I affirmed right then that I am 100 percent spiritual because God is Spirit and the only substance, and I am His creation. I knew that God is All, and that the truth of His allness applies to the tiniest element of creation as well as to the greatest. If something is spiritual and good, it is indestructible and reflects the power of God. If it is not good, it is unreal.

Then I remembered another statement from the Lesson that week: “A spiritual idea has not a single element of error, and this truth removes properly whatever is offensive” (Science and Health, p. 463). This wonderfully underscored what I had been reasoning with spiritually and made me conscious of the fact that I could trust divine Truth and this spiritual understanding to remove naturally whatever wasn’t right, whether it appeared as a thought or a thing.

I also embraced all those in the dental office in my prayer, acknowledging that everyone is the reflection of God, and not subject to disease or harm—as a victim of it or as an observer of it. God being the all-seeing, all-knowing Mind, God’s likeness can see only what God sees and know what God knows.

The Bible assures us that “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). And because God is divine Love, changeless and perfect, all He creates must be just as undeviatingly ideal and expressive of Life and good. Because of this, spiritual perfection is all that can be evidenced and perceived by God’s sons and daughters.

At this point the hygienist had finished cleaning, and the dentist came in. After examining my mouth, particularly the area in question, he said it looked as though everything was fine, actually, and that there wasn’t any need for me to come in more frequently. All was in order, and my teeth and gums were sound. I have since had other cleanings, including X-rays, with the same hygienist and dentist, and no mention has been made of any problem with my gums or teeth. The discomfort has never returned since that day, either.

I suppose it is possible that the hygienist was wrong in her assessment, but the discomfort I had been feeling certainly had vanished, and to me this was a clear lesson in the fact that we don’t have to accept the suggestion that healing must take time or that a problem is inherently formidable and difficult to heal. After all, what isn’t spiritual must be insubstantial—and so must be an illusion. And an illusion doesn’t take time to be destroyed; it takes a realization of what is true. This fact has brought healing to me many times.

There is nothing to compare with experiencing in some measure the peace and joy that come with progress toward this goal: to “… drop the false estimate of life and happiness, of joy and sorrow, and attain the bliss of loving unselfishly, working patiently, and conquering all that is unlike God” (Science and Health, p. 262). Anyone can move in this direction at any moment and so begin to witness God’s timeless healing power here and now.

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