Hope and Healing Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

The Christian Science Monitor, June 3, 1998 | Go to article overview

Hope and Healing Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life


How important is hope to healing? Can you be healed of a physical ailment through prayer if you have absolutely no positive expectation of spiritual healing? A friend put the question to me recently. I knew she was not asking idly. We talked awhile. Frankly, I don't remember much of what I said. Then, she unexpectedly answered her own question.

She remembered a Bible account leading up to Paul's shipwreck on the island of Melita. Paul was a prisoner, being transported with other prisoners. A terrible storm came up. Everyone fought to keep the ship afloat, taking practical measures like dumping cargo overboard. Then the narrative pauses and observes, "All hope that we should be saved was then taken away" (Acts 27:20). My friend and I both knew the story well enough to jump ahead mentally to the outcome; even though there was no hope, they were saved, apparently through Paul's own faith in God.

An hour or so after this conversation, I went to a midweek church meeting. The individual conducting it had prepared readings from the Bible and from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy. To my surprise, the readings were on the subject of hope. They even included the story of Paul's shipwreck! I was amazed at how many different kinds of hope I heard about: "depressed hope," "human hope," "sanguine hopes," "vain" hope, "the hypocrite's hope," "weary hope." Hope that is "a cheat." Even a "desert of human hopes." And hope that has been "taken away." What role can these play in forwarding - or perhaps thwarting - the healing we seek? What about healing when there is no conviction that it will come? As I pondered this, it occurred to me that it's the type of expectation we have that holds the key. Hoping selfishly for a nasty neighbor to move out, for instance, didn't sound healing at all. And "depressed hope" wouldn't likely be a plus when someone seeks spiritual healing of a physical illness, for it would not indicate the presence of God, of good. But I also had a hunch, perhaps because of the message of Paul's no-hope boat trip, that while depressed hope, or good-riddance-to-a-nasty-neighbor hope, or no hope, wouldn't forward a healing, they also couldn't stop it. …

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