When we or those we hold dear seem engulfed in disease, relationship problems, or financial trouble, it’s tempting to focus on the distressing symptoms and lose sight of the good in our lives.
But Christ Jesus came to teach us a more effective way of dealing with difficulties. By his words and works, he showed us that what seem to be threats to our peace and well-being melt before the saving power of God.
No place in the Gospels do we find a situation where Jesus advocated a focus on problems or fears. The confidence he inspired instead came from his constant awareness of the presence and power of God. He spoke of God as a loving Father, and of the kingdom of heaven as within each one of us. He demonstrated a courage born of a deep trust in God.
“Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on,” he advised. “Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:25, 26).
With steadfast faith in God, the Master was able to heal the sick, raise the dead, still the storm, and feed the multitude. Indeed, Jesus never exhibited fear in any case. He understood that a focus on outward appearances would only intensify the sense that a problem was beyond God’s help, heightening fears of impending doom. He rejected the evidence of sin, disease, and death with the conviction that God is supreme on earth, just as He is in heaven. In fact, Jesus showed us that we can have perfect peace—a genuine sense of the Christ here with us and in us—regardless of the circumstances.
We could say that Jesus pointed us to positive symptoms, or evidence, to watch for, namely, the goodness emerging in us that indicates the influence of God’s presence and power. He urged us, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, loved the teachings of Jesus and pointed out how the Christly qualities we allow to grow in us indicate how we are being transformed by God. She said: “Who remembers that patience, forgiveness, abiding faith, and affection, are the symptoms by which our Father indicates the different stages of man’s recovery from sin and his entrance into Science? Who knows how the feeble lips are made eloquent, how hearts are inspired, how healing becomes spontaneous, and how the divine Mind is understood and demonstrated? He alone knows these wonders who is departing from the thraldom of the senses and accepting spiritual truth,—that which blesses its adoption by the refinement of joy and the dismissal of sorrow” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, pp. 100–101).
It is empowering to notice the signs that we are departing from the adverse influence of the senses and accepting divine Truth. The attitude that allows us to watch for spiritual strength instead of material weakness can be traced back to the theology Jesus taught and illustrated by his life. His Beatitudes (see Matthew 5:3–12) speak of the spirit of Truth and Love and its effect on our experience. If these teachings are allowed to find expression in the details of our lives, this nurtures the “recovery from sin” and “entrance into Science” that we should be demonstrating.
As an example, there was a time in my life when a precious relationship was going sour. I was experiencing bouts of extreme impatience and felt unable and unwilling to stop them. I had been told all my life that I was very much like my dad—the crankiest, most impatient man I had ever known. It was awful to feel that character flaws, physical deficiencies, and a proclivity to disease were inescapable because of heredity. I prayed about this, then worried, stewed, and prayed again—in that order—for some time. I watched for impatience and the symptoms it produced like a watchdog at the door, and I would always find them.
Finally realizing that this approach was counterproductive, in quiet thought I reached out to God for new insights. Then a statement from the Bible leaped out at me: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).
That prompted me to ask, Do I believe I need to manufacture the kingdom of God in my brain or heart? Of course not, I reasoned. The kingdom of God consists of all that God has made, reflecting all that He is. It is always here where I am and available to me. Further, my life is an expression of this glorious kingdom of beautiful qualities. I don’t fabricate them; I reflect them. So I have all the patience, temperance, or any other Christly quality I want or need by claiming God as their source and my reflection of them as His spiritual offspring.
Once I saw this, I also saw that true prayer humbly accepts the fatherhood and motherhood of God, bringing quietness of heart. It silences the arguments against progress and healing, resulting in a willingness to live God’s qualities by being and doing them. Even health, I was to learn, can be taken possession of as a natural consequence of being God’s creation. Jesus showed us this by “healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Matthew 9:35).
Allowing old attitudes to be replaced with Christly qualities takes vigilance. Many times when frustration threatened to get the better of me, I had to stop and pray to yield to the patience and grace that are man’s birthright as the child of God. Persistence in this effort eventually brought consistent harmony, not only in the relationship mentioned above, but in all of my relationships.
God’s nature, expressed in and as His creation, is constantly present. It operates as unstoppable divine law, producing health and harmony. Jesus recognized God’s spiritual qualities in himself and others, when others did not, because he was acutely aware of their ever-presence. He trusted these symptoms of divine Love to appear and bring about harmony and healing. We can willingly practice these qualities, and trust their healing effect in us too.