Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Divine Spirit, Fear, and the Flu ; A Christian Science Perspective on Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Divine Spirit, Fear, and the Flu ; A Christian Science Perspective on Daily Life

Article excerpt

President Bush's $7.1 billion plan to defend Americans against a possible avian influenza epidemic underscores the seriousness with which many nations are treating the threat.

Already, some wire services are using the word "panic" to describe the public's fear of a possible epidemic. At the same time, a number of health officials are cautioning that people should not overreact to this threat - while simultaneously emphasizing the need for precautions. It seems that public health officials, hospital administrators, and physicians are striving to curb a spirit of fear that is trying to engulf American society and other countries around the world.

As I read the news reports, it occurred to me that prayer to Spirit, one of the biblical names for God, would be an antidote not only to the public spirit of fear, but also to the appearance of disease itself. A Bible verse gave me a clue about how to start such a prayer.

The Hebrew Scriptures, in Second Chronicles, narrate how, in a time of national threat, King Jehoshaphat stood in Jerusalem before the temple and prayed. The Bible gives us the substance of his prayer in the words, "If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help" (II Chron. 20:9).

This verse indicates to me that in the face of any threat, it is important to stand in God's presence. I think that this means more than just a bland assertion that God is everywhere; we need to stand firmly and know that God is supreme, all-power, infinitely present.

This prayer of affirmation of the awesome power of God should lift us into a greater awareness of His omnipotence. This kind of prayer is not a mere recital of words; it confronts the specter of fear in our thinking and destroys it. It calls upon the mighty power of God to confront and annul our affliction, whether it be violence, disease, or famine. …

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