This past Tuesday evening I got up off the couch after watching a couple of TV programs, and discovered that I couldn’t lift my upper right arm without shooting pain. I tried moving my arm in different ways and continued to feel either an almost total lack of strength or acute discomfort. Almost immediately I started to worry about what had caused this, and also what effect this would have on future activities, from a tennis match the coming weekend to an overseas fly-fishing trip scheduled for early November. I wrestled with both the pain and the worry throughout the night.
On Wednesday morning I told my wife that I was having the difficulty, because it was clear that I was favoring my right side. She asked me to try to raise my arm (I couldn’t, without pain) and turn my wrist and hand to the left, as if I were pouring tea. I couldn’t do that either, without pain. My wife told me that the symptoms were just like a condition that she had previously experienced, called “frozen shoulder”, a condition which had required several months of physical therapy to achieve a return to freedom of motion.
I was determined to deal with the issue by turning to prayer. I had experienced a healing, through prayer alone, of a similar condition about 5 years before, although it took a number of months to regain freedom of motion.
Later that morning I started to read an issue of the Christian Science Journal. There was an article* that seemed to address my situation beautifully. The article used the Biblical story of David and Goliath as a metaphor for conquering the fear of illness (or any other condition posed by mortal mind). It talked about each of David’s five smooth stones as representing a counter-thought to the challenges of fear and mortal thinking. Here was some great ammunition for dealing with this physical challenge! There was another article that talked about the perfection of my spiritual identity that provided additional support for my thinking.
I like to think of God as the power that created the universe—a creation that I find easy to conceive of as unimaginably vast, and the power to create it as infinitely strong. Coupled with that power are qualities that give meaning to all life: Love, and Truth, or Justice. This always builds my confidence that whatever my material condition may appear to be, not only is it unreal and temporal, but as God’s reflection I possess the infinite power to reduce any such false claim to its native nothingness.
I realized that I needed to clearly and consistently establish this understanding of divine power in my consciousness. I had to be “on patrol” to guard against negative suggestions that kept floating into my thoughts—that the shoulder condition could impede right activity—that a healing could take a long time—etc. I’ve always found that reminding myself “What is God thinking here?” and continually asking “Is this God’s thought?” tends to keep me on the right track. So over the next two days I really concentrated on being the metaphorical porter at the door of my thought –a modern day “thought bouncer” whenever negative suggestions seemed to come to mind.
The very next day, Thursday, the shoulder seemed to have improved markedly, and by Friday I was able to resume my full range of normal activities without any evidence of stiffness or pain or inhibited movement. The change was so quick, and so complete, that I was truly overwhelmed, not only with relief and gratitude, but with a profound appreciation for the incredible power of prayer to God to heal.
*“Inevitable Health”, Julie Ward, Christian Science Journal, November 2009
The first stone was the idea that “Disease has no scary name—its only name is nothing”. The second was “Disease has no place—it’s never on the body, but is merely a suggestion of mortal mind”.