THE Bible uses a number of different terms to convey the tender sense of God's love, which is a central point in its teachings. Christ Jesus spoke of God as Father and Shepherd, and the book of Isaiah represents God as saying, ``As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.''1 Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, uses the term Father-Mother for God, not to change His nature but to describe it more meaningfully. This term shows that the divine nature includes qualities we associate with both fatherhood and motherhood, such as wisdom and love.
This larger understanding of God's nature is very practical in bringing strength and reassurance to daily experience, as well as being an important part of spiritual healing. A woman proved this for herself recently when she began to suffer from a crippling rheumatic condition that made it very difficult for her to get about.Since she had always led a very active life, this was distressing for both her and her family.
She was a lifelong student of Christian Science and had complete faith in the effectiveness of its teachings. She had experienced and witnessed healings that had come about as a result of its practice. So she asked a Christian Science practitioner for treatment through prayer, and together, on the basis of God's allness and goodness, they challenged the thought that any disease could be incurable or chronic. They also cultivated a simple receptivity to the divine Father-Mother.
At first progress seemed slow, but gradually improvements began to come, and in about a year she had regained her freedom completely and was able to resume all her normal activities. Members of her family who weren't Christian Scientists, and who had pushed her in a wheelchair on different occasions, were delighted to see that healing had taken place. One of the things that came back to her very reassuringly at that time was a prayer written by Mrs. Eddy, which she had learned as a child: Father-Mother God,
Loving me, -- Guard me when I sleep; Guide my little feet
Up to Thee.2
She had used this prayer many times, but now what stood out was the thought of God loving and supporting her all the time -- the thought that God in His infiniteness, with all His vast creation to care for, loved and cherished her as an individual spiritual idea. Previously she had tended to think of God mainly as the one true lawmaker, the divine Principle of the universe, and had centered her efforts on appealing to God's law and claiming that she was subject only to this law. While she readily acknowledged this understanding to be helpful, she now had a new sense of what ``God, loving me'' meant.
To understand God as the divine Father-Mother, the creative, caring, comforting presence, always filling the whole of creation, is to be able to feel something of the Love that heals. Misfortune and suffering stem from a materially-based concept of existence, which would shut God out and deprive us of His protecting care. But a spiritual standpoint, receptive to God's eternally caring nature as Love, opens the way to healing.
We're also helped immeasurably by coming to see the true selfhood of man as the child, or expression, of the divineFather-Mother, as the spiritual image of Love, untouched by suffering, unburdened by weaknesses associated with age. As we cultivate this higher view, we recognize the permanence in our lives of such winning, childlike qualities as innocence, purity, spontaneity, expectancy, and trust.
Seeing God as Father-Mother and ourselves as His children puts our health on a sturdier foundation and, most important, helps forward the regeneration so essential to our salvation.
1Isaiah 66:13. 2Miscellaneous Writings, p. 400.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. Psalms 36:7