The headlines of our newspapers frequently tell of people protesting government, business, and military actions. Some protests last only a few hours, such as a recent teachers' strike in my community. Others may protest for many years a course of action - such as the deployment of nuclear weapons. Some protests have brought significant progress; others seem to have been exercises in frustration.
Constructive protest may well play a part in national progress. And there's a certain kind of protest that's essential for individual spiritual progress: the protest against the unjust tyranny of sin and disease.
In line with Christ Jesus' teachings, and according to Christian Science, we are not to adapt to sin, endure disease, and cope with limitation. We have a divinely established right to protest against these. God has not fashioned us at the mercy of evil. Healing progress can be won whenever we realize that evil has no legitimate reign over God's man; no legitimate reign over our true selfhood made in His likeness. Evil can be overcome.
If God had placed sin, sickness, and limitation in charge of man, one's prayerful protest would be an exercise in frustration. But the Bible assures us that God is purely good, ''of purer eyes than to behold evil.'' n1
n1 Habakkuk 1:13.
Recently I saw the healing power of prayerfully protesting against the notion that God allows evil or injury to control man. I was hit directly in the eye by a tennis ball estimated to have been traveling in excess of ninety miles an hour. The force of the blow knocked me onto my back. Since this was during a doubles tournament, a crowd of concerned spectators quickly gathered. The area around my eye was throbbing and swelling rapidly, and my vision was blurred.
It has become my custom, as a student of Christian Science, to pray for healing when presented with challenges, so I began to mentally protest against the picture of an absent God. I affirmed that God was present with me, and that He had not caused or even permitted this injury.
I felt sure that a vigorous, prayerful protest would eliminate the evidence of injury, since God, divine Love, is constantly governing His creation and preserving its well-being. God was not sanctioning accident or pain, so I didn't need to accept them as irreversible conditions.
I decided to put my protest into action. I stood up, assured everyone that I would be fine, and continued with the match. The eye area was still quite swollen, so I continued my silent protest - for God's care and against the symptoms that would deny that care.
When we changed sides of the court, one of our opponents remarked, ''Boy, are you gonna have a black eye!'' Without even thinking about it I good-naturedly responded, ''Oh no I'm not!'' For several minutes I pondered this response - ''Oh no I'm not!'' I was not going to consent to a cause apart from God. I wasn't going to accept matter as a lawgiver.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, describes such prayerful protesting in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She writes: ''When the body is supposed to say, 'I am sick,' never plead guilty. Since matter cannot talk, it must be mortal mind which speaks; therefore meet the intimation with a protest. If you say, 'I am sick,' you plead guilty.'' n2
n2 Science and Health, p. 391.
As the match continued, I refused to plead guilty, or to say or to think, ''I am injured.'' Within about twenty minutes of the original incident, I felt the swelling recede around my eye, and my vision became normal again. By the end of the match there was no evidence that anything had happened. I was completely healed. We even won the match.
The protest that heals is not filled with frustration, anger, or willfulness; nor, on the other hand, is it simply a matter of positive thinking. Rather, it is filled with the loving conviction that God is in perfect control of His creation. We can confidently protest against sin and sickness - and experience healing - when we acknowledge that these are no part of God's plan for His children. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. I Corinthians 16:13