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Frontlines: Health and God

Spiritual health care for children

From the February 2004 issue of The Christian Science Journal

When my brothers and I were in grade school, each of us received an award for perfect attendance. As I think about it: 3 boys x 6 years = 18 school years without an absence. This continued in high school.

My brothers and I were typical, active kids. And it wasn't as if we didn't feel bad at times. We just healed up quick. We had a very reliable health-care system that our parents used. It was a purely spiritual system of healing.

These days, prayer rooms and spiritual helpers are popping up almost as fast as banks and fast-food restaurants. People aren't just interested in prayer; they're active pray-ers, because they have faith that prayer really does have an effect. A Newsweek poll taken late last year reveals that 72 percent of Americans "say they believe that praying to God can cure someone—even if science says the person doesn't stand a chance."Caludia Kalb, "Faith & Healing," Newsweek, November 10, 2003, p. 46 . With all the recent attention being given to the benefits of prayer, it might look like spiritual care is a 21st-century discovery. But what seems to be a new kid on the block is actually one of the oldest forms of treatment available.

Reading through the Bible, it's easy to see that trust in God—the kind of trust that sees spiritual care not just as a complement to other methods of treatment, but as a reliable and effective system on its own—has powerful, practical results. Perhaps the best example of one who demonstrated the efficacy and reliability of this kind of treatment was Jesus, the master healer. The first four books of the New Testament describe dozens of his healings, which included blindness, leprosy, and epilepsy, just to name a few. These books also mention that there were numerous unrecorded healings as well.

The kind of spiritual care that Jesus offered to those who came in search of healing wasn't a random act. As Mary Baker Eddy discovered centuries later, there was a science to it—a Science based on God's unchanging laws of goodness and wholeness that, when applied systematically, produces consistent results. She called this new/old practical method of spiritual healing Christian Science.

There's a Science to spiritual care.

Since I grew up in a home where my parents practiced Christian Science, I had learned since I was young that spiritual care is possible because of prayer. This kind of prayer is not an attempt to change a sick body or fix a challenging situation. Rather, the kind of prayer that's consistently effective is a heartfelt endeavor to see things from God's perspective. Since God is 100 percent good, all-loving Spirit, and since all of spiritual creation was made by Him, it follows that what God sees and knows about His creation must be only good. Prayer enables one to understand that the harmony and health that God, or Spirit, created could never be taken away, because prayer brings one's thought into line with God's view—spiritual reality. I saw the very practical effects of this kind of spiritual treatment when I was growing up.

When my brothers and I were young, we went to a community center to take tumbling and trampoline lessons. During one of our first lessons, an instructor called me over to him. He had me stand on the tumbling mat and told me to do a flip. I had no idea how to do one.

When I tried to explain to the instructor that I couldn't do a flip, he just kept telling me, "Sure you can. Go ahead and do it." Finally, not wanting to disappoint him, I tried. I leaped and twisted, and the top of my head came down hard on the mat. I was knocked out cold.

When I came to, I was dazed. The instructor told me I'd been unconscious for several minutes. When our mother arrived, the instructors were understandably concerned. She reassured them that I would get the best care possible, and we went home.

As we drove, Mother prayed with me. We talked about the fact that since I was a spiritual idea, I had to be safe. God was holding me close to Him, and I could never fall out of His care. As a child, I was reassured by the idea that being close to God meant I was safe in God's "pocket," so to speak. By the time we got home I was feeling better. But I was still scared when I thought about what would happen when someday I was asked to do a flip on the trampoline.

But just as fast as the terrifying image of the trampoline appeared, another thought came. This one was about an eraser. I realized that just as I could use an eraser to remove errors in my homework, I could remember God's infinite love for me and erase my fear of the trampoline and future injuries. These fears were errors that an understanding of God could remove.

I thought about how God is always with me. How God's power is the only power that exists. How God is constantly loving me and keeping me safe. They were simple thoughts, really, but they had all the power of God's laws of health and goodness behind them. And they worked.

Erasing the scared, worried, pain-based thoughts was possible because I was seeing things the way God saw them. And that perspective-shift brought healing. The rest of the night I felt good. Not only was my fear gone, but I also wasn't dizzy or sore at all.

At the very next lesson, my brothers and I were up on the trampoline learning to do flips—and I was loving it. Once again, through turning to God, I'd seen the possibilities of a system of healing that not only treats physical ailments effectively, but also replaces fear with trust, and discouragement with hope. What better promise can there be for people of all ages who are seeking a reliable system of health care that heals—and regenerates.

Keith Wommack is a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science in Corpus Christi, Texas.

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