Help thou mine unbelief.

October 30, 2014

This is what the frightened father said to Jesus regarding his epileptic son, after the Master had reassured him that all things are possible to him who believes.  The disciples had not been able to heal the boy.  Was Jesus now suggesting that it was the father’s unbelief that was the problem?  No, of course not.  Jesus didn’t respond with a reprimand, or doctrine, or even encouragement.  He simply healed the child and returned him to his grateful father.  (Mark 9:17-29)

Doesn’t it seem that we sometimes find ourselves in a similar situation?  We yearn to trust.  We hope our faith will be firm.  Yet doubt fills our hearts.  We can’t seem to get beyond our own unbelief.  But there is a way to move forward, to find peace and healing.

It’s important to note Jesus’ response to his disciples’ query as to why they could not heal the boy.  He replied, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” Since John the Baptist’s disciples commented that Jesus didn’t fast (see Luke 5:33 for example) it’s not likely he would consider not eating a solution.  And he said as much in the Sermon on the Mount, admonishing, “take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink…”  (Matt 6:25)

Perhaps the Master was suggesting a kind of fast from fearful and negative thoughts and behaviors, much like Isaiah reports God as saying: “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?”  (Chapter 58, verse 6)  Could it be that refusing to mentally and spiritually consider any enslaving thought, coupled with heartfelt prayer, was the necessary preparation for the kind of healing Jesus expected?

Mary Baker Eddy, in her discussion of this Bible story, offers this definition of fasting: “refraining from admitting the claims of the senses.”  (Miscellany p. 222)  And she called the prayers of Jesus “deep and conscientious protests of truth.”  (Science and Health p. 12) These two explanations show the Christly altitude of Jesus’ outlook as well as what he was striving to impart to his students.  They would eventually learn this lesson and successfully heal and save others as he did.

We can benefit from this scriptural teaching as well.  We can recognize the sensational stories of fear and pain and resist them.  We can rely on the comforting presence of the Christ to shift thought to a more divine perspective, where healing can occur safely and naturally.  Unbelief doesn’t stand a chance once thought begins to move.

And rest assured.  The love of God is big enough and full enough and close enough to help you do this.  For with God all things are possible.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Burden? or Blessing!

October 11, 2014

It’s all in the way you look at it.  Sometimes things that seem unbearable are lifted when we expect them to bless us.

In Genesis, in the Bible, (32:24-30) we read of Jacob returning to his home after becoming very wealthy working for his uncle.  He had fled, after wronging his brother many years before and was in terror of Esau’s revenge.  During the night prior to their encounter, “there wrestled a man with him.”  But actually, Jacob was wrestling with himself: with guilt, with shame, but mostly with fear.  Did he deserve to perish at the hands of his brother?  Was depriving Esau of not only his birthright but of his father’s blessing reason to die?

These questions were not easily answered.  Jacob had put off even considering them all the years he worked for his wife’s father.  But God told him to return to the land of his family, and he was being obedient.  He hoped that counted for something.

He struggled.  With rocks as pillows and stars as witnesses, he finally refused to ignore it any longer.  If this was his last night on earth, at least he would face up to the wrongs he had done.  He would take responsibility for his actions.

But something happened.  In coming to terms with his deceit and cowardice, he saw an aspect of himself previously unknown.  This recognition transformed him and he felt blessed.  As morning light dawned, Jacob was a new man.  No longer afraid of his brother, he wished to share his good fortune with him.

And so it was.  Jacob embraced Esau and said “I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.”  They parted as friends – and equals.

When we see ourselves and others in that light, our burdens become blessings.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

All things through Christ

October 3, 2014

You may recognize that as a glorious spiritual fact put forth by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  What a wonderful promise! And what a reminder.

It doesn’t say “I can do some things through Christ and some things on my own.”  Nor does it say “I’ll take advantage of Christ when I need him.”  No, it says all things.

What does that mean?  It means no guesswork.  We don’t have to wonder whether we can be strong; be well; be safe; be smart; be happy; be good.

Jesus never wondered if God would care for him – and for the multitudes who followed him.  He was so confident in the ever presence and all power of his heavenly Father that he always knew that healing and life and progress would be the outcome of his prayers.  He had no doubt that God was willing and able to do as he asked.

And he told us to expect the same kind of response.  He said, “all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”  (Matt 21:22)  In fact, he went so far as to say, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.”  (John 14:12)

The same Christ which enabled Jesus to do all things, enables you to do all things.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.