THE MINISTRY OF HEALING
The Co-Working of the Divine
and the Human
When the gospel is received in its purity and power, it is a cure for the maladies that originated in sin. The Sun of Righteousness arises, "with healing in His wings." Malachi 4:2. Not all this world bestows can heal a broken heart, or impart peace of mind, or remove care, or banish disease. Fame, genius, talent--all are powerless to gladden the sorrowful heart or to restore the wasted life. The life of God in the soul is man's only hope. The love which Christ diffuses through the whole being is a vitalizing power. Every vital part--the brain, the heart, the nerves--it touches with healing. By it the highest energies of the being are roused to activity. It frees the soul from the guilt and sorrow, the anxiety and care, that crush the life forces. With it come serenity and composure. It implants in the soul, joy that nothing earthly can destroy,--joy in the Holy Spirit,--health-giving, life-giving joy.
Our Saviour's words, "Come unto Me, . . . and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28), are a prescription for the healing of physical, mental, and spiritual ills. Though men have brought suffering upon themselves by their own wrongdoing, He regards them with pity. In Him they may find help. He will do great things for those who trust in Him. Although for ages sin has been strengthening its hold on the human race, although through falsehood and artifice Satan has cast the black shadow of his interpretation upon the word of God, and has caused men to doubt His goodness; yet the Father's mercy and love have not ceased to flow earthward in rich currents. If human beings would open the windows of the soul heavenward, in appreciation of the divine gifts, a flood of healing virtue would pour in. The physician who desires to be an acceptable co-worker with Christ will strive to become efficient in every feature of his work. He will study diligently, that he may be well qualified for the responsibilities of his profession, and will constantly endeavor to reach a higher standard, seeking for increased knowledge, greater skill, and deeper discernment. Every physician should realize that he who does weak, inefficient work is not only doing injury to the sick, but is also doing injustice to his fellow physicians. The physician who is satisfied with a low standard of skill and knowledge not only belittles the medical profession, but does dishonor to Christ, the Chief Physician.
Those who find that they are unfitted for medical work should choose some other employment. Those who are well adapted to care for the sick, but whose education and medical qualifications are limited, would do well to take up the humbler parts of the work, ministering faithfully as nurses. By patient service under skillful physicians they may be constantly learning, and by improving every opportunity to acquire knowledge they may in time become fully qualified for the work of a physician. Let the younger physicians, "as workers together with Him [the Chief Physician], . . . receive not the grace of God in vain, . . . giving no offense in anything, that the ministry [of the sick] be not blamed: but in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God." 2 Corinthians 6:1-4.
God's Purpose for us is that we shall ever move upward. The true medical missionary physician will be an increasingly skillful practitioner. Talented Christian physicians, having superior professional ability, should be sought out and encouraged to engage in the service of God in places where they can educate and train others to become medical missionaries.
The Physician should gather to his soul the light of the word of God. He should make continual growth in grace. With him, religion is not to be merely one influence among others. It is to be an influence dominating all others. He is to act from high, holy motives--motives that are powerful because they proceed from the One who gave His life to furnish us with power to overcome evil. If the physician faithfully and diligently strives to make himself efficient in his profession, if he consecrates himself to the service of Christ, and takes time to search his own heart, he will understand how to grasp the mysteries of his sacred calling. He may so discipline and educate himself that all within the sphere of his influence will see the excellence of the education and wisdom gained by the one who is connected with the God of wisdom and power. In no place is a closer fellowship with Christ needed than in the work of the physician. He who would rightly perform the physician's duties must daily and hourly live a Christian life. The life of the patient is in the hands of the physician. One careless diagnosis, one wrong prescription, in a critical case, or one unskillful movement of the hand in an operation, even by so much as a hair's breadth, and a life may be sacrificed, a soul launched into eternity. How solemn the thought! How important that the physician shall be ever under the control of the divine Physician!
The Saviour is willing to help all who call upon Him for wisdom and clearness of thought. And who needs wisdom and clearness of thought more than does the physician, upon whose decisions so much depends? Let the one who is trying to prolong life look in faith to Christ to direct his every movement. The Saviour will give him tact and skill in dealing with difficult cases. Wonderful are the opportunities given to the guardians of the sick. In all that is done for the restoration of the sick, let them understand that the physician is seeking to help them co-operate with God in combating disease. Lead them to feel that at every step taken in harmony with the laws of God, they may expect the aid of divine power. The sick and suffering will have much more confidence in the physician who they are confident loves and fears God. They rely upon his words. They feel a sense of safety in the presence and administration of that physician. Knowing the Lord Jesus, it is the privilege of the Christian practitioner by prayer to invite His presence in the sickroom. Before performing a critical operation, let the physician ask for the aid of the Great Physician. Let him assure the suffering one that God can bring him safely through the ordeal, that in all times of distress He is a sure refuge for those who trust in Him. The physician who cannot do this loses case after case that otherwise might have been saved. If he could speak words that would inspire faith in the sympathizing Saviour, who feels every throb of anguish, and could present the needs of the soul to Him in prayer, the crisis would oftener be safely passed.
Only He who reads the heart can know with what trembling and terror many patients consent to an operation under the surgeon's hand. They realize their peril. While they may have confidence in the physician's skill they know that it is not infallible. But as they see the physician bowed in prayer, asking help from God, they are inspired with confidence. Gratitude and trust open the heart to the healing power of God, the energies of the whole being are vitalized, and the life forces triumph. To the physician also the Saviour's presence is an element of strength. Often the responsibilities and possibilities of his work bring dread upon the spirit. The feverishness of uncertainty and fear would make the hand unskillful. But the assurance that the divine Counselor is beside him, to guide and to sustain, imparts quietness and courage. The touch of Christ upon the physician's hand brings vitality, restfulness, confidence, and power. When the crisis is safely passed, and success is apparent, let a few moments be spent with the patient in prayer. Give expression to your thankfulness for the life that has been spared. As words of gratitude flow from the patient to the physician, let the praise and thanksgiving be directed to God. Tell the patient his life has been spared because he was under the heavenly Physician's protection.
The physician who follows such a course is leading his patient to the One upon whom he is dependent for life, the One who can save to the uttermost all who come to Him. Into the medical missionary work should be brought a deep yearning for souls. To the physician equally with the gospel minister is committed the highest trust ever committed to man. Whether he realizes it or not, every physician is entrusted with the cure of souls.
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