(Chapter 18 from the book Ministry of Healing by Ellen G White)
The relation that exists between the mind and the body is very intimate. When either one is affected, the other sympathizes. The condition of the mind affects the health to a far greater degree than many realize. Many of the diseases from which people suffer are the result of mental depression. Grief, anxiety, discontent, remorse, guilt, distrust, all tend to break down the life forces and to invite decay and death.
Disease is sometimes produced, and is often greatly aggravated, by the imagination. Many are lifelong invalids who might be well if they only thought so. Many imagine that every slight exposure will cause illness, and the evil effect is produced because it is expected. Many die from disease the cause of which is wholly imaginary.
Courage, hope, faith, sympathy, love promote health and prolong life. A contented mind, a cheerful spirit, is health to the body and strength to the soul. “A merry [rejoicing] heart does good, like medicine.” Proverbs 17:22.
In the treatment of the sick, the effect of mental influence should not be overlooked. Rightly used, this influence affords one of the most effective agencies for combating disease.
Control of Mind Over Mind
There is, however, a form of mind cure that is one of the most effective agencies for evil. Through this so-called science, one mind is brought under the control of another so that the individuality of the weaker is merged in that of the stronger mind. One person acts out the will of another. Thus it is claimed that the tenor of the thoughts may be changed, that health-giving impulses may be imparted, and patients may be enabled to resist and overcome disease.
This method of cure has been employed by persons who were ignorant of its real nature and tendency and who believed it to be a means of benefit to the sick. But this so-called science is based upon false principles. It is foreign to the nature and spirit of Christ. It does not lead people to Him who is life and salvation. It leads them to separate from the true Source of their strength.
It is not God’s purpose that human beings should yield mind and will to the control of another, becoming passive instruments. They are not to merge their individuality in that of another human being. They are not to look to any human being as the source of healing. Their dependence must be in God. In the dignity of their God-given personhood they are to be controlled by God Himself, not by any human intelligence.
God desires to bring us into direct relation with Himself. In all His dealings with human beings, He recognizes the principle of personal responsibility. He seeks to encourage a sense of personal dependence and to impress the need of personal guidance. He desires to bring the human into association with the divine, that we may be transformed into the divine likeness. Satan works to thwart this purpose. He seeks to encourage dependence upon humans. When minds are turned away from God, the tempter can bring them under his rule. He can control humanity.
The theory of mind controlling mind was originated by Satan to introduce himself as the chief worker, to put human philosophy where divine philosophy should be. Of all the errors that are finding acceptance among professedly Christian people, none is a more dangerous deception than this, none more certain to separate souls from God. Innocent though it may appear, if exercised upon patients, it will tend to their destruction, not to their restoration. It opens a door through which Satan will enter to take possession both of the mind that is given up to be controlled by another and of the mind that controls.
Fearful is the power thus given to evil-minded men and women. What opportunities it affords to those who live by taking advantage of others’ weaknesses or follies! How many, through control of minds feeble or diseased, will find a means of gratifying lustful passion or greed of gain!
There is something better for us to engage in than the control of humanity by humanity. Physicians should educate people to look from the human to the divine. Instead of teaching people to depend upon human beings for the cure of soul and body, they should direct the sick to the One who can save to the uttermost all who come to Him. He who made the human mind knows what the mind needs. God alone is the One who can heal. Those whose minds and bodies are diseased are to behold in Christ the Restorer. “‘Because I live,’” He says, “‘you will live also.’” John 14:19.
This is the life we are to present to the sick, telling them that if they have faith in Christ as the Restorer, if they cooperate with Him, obeying the laws of health and striving to perfect holiness in His fear, He will impart to them His life. When we present Christ to them in this way, we are imparting a power, a strength, that is of value, for it comes from above. This is the true science of healing for body and soul.
Great wisdom is needed in dealing with diseases caused through the mind. A sore, sick heart, a discouraged mind, needs mild treatment. Many times some continuing home trouble is, like a canker, eating to the very soul and weakening one’s hold on life. Sometimes remorse for sin undermines the constitution and unbalances the mind. Tender sympathy can benefit this class of invalids. The physician should first gain their confidence and then point them to the Great Healer. If their faith can be directed to the True Physician, and they can have confidence that He has undertaken their case, this will bring relief to the mind and often give health to the body.
Sympathy and tact will often prove a greater benefit to the sick than will skillful treatment given in a cold, indifferent way. When a physician comes to the sickbed in a listless, careless manner, looks at the afflicted one with little concern, by word or action giving the impression that the case requires scant attention, and then leaves the patient to his or her own reflections, he has done positive harm. The doubt and discouragement produced by his indifference will often counteract the good effect of the remedies he may prescribe.
If physicians could put themselves in the place of the one whose spirit is humbled, whose will is weakened by suffering, and who longs for words of sympathy and assurance, they would be better prepared to be empathetic. When the love and sympathy that Christ manifested for the sick is combined with medical knowledge, the physician’s very presence will be a blessing.
Frankness inspires a patient with confidence and thus proves an important aid to recovery. There are physicians who consider it wise policy to conceal from the patient the nature and cause of the disease from which he or she is suffering. Many, fearing to excite or discourage patients by stating the truth, will hold out false hopes of recovery and even allow them to go down to the grave without warning them of their danger. All this is unwise.
It may not always be safe or best to explain to patients the full extent of their danger. This might alarm them and retard or even prevent recovery. Nor can the whole truth always be told to those whose ailments are largely imaginary. Many of these persons are unreasonable and have not accustomed themselves to exercise self-control. They have peculiar fancies and imagine many things that are false in regard to themselves and to others. To them these things are real, and those who care for them need to manifest constant kindness and unwearied patience and tact. If these patients were told the truth in regard to themselves, some would be offended, others discouraged. Christ said to His disciples, “‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.’” John 16:12.
But though not all the truth may be spoken on every occasion, it is never necessary or justifiable to deceive. Never should the physician or nurse stoop to prevarication. Those who do this place themselves where God cannot cooperate with them, and in forfeiting the confidence of their patients, they are casting away one of the most effective human aids to their restoration.
The power of the will is not valued as it should be. The will, kept awake and rightly directed, will impart energy to the whole being and will be a wonderful aid in maintaining health. It is a power also in dealing with disease. Exercised in the right direction, it would control the imagination and be a potent means of resisting and overcoming disease of both mind and body. By exercising will power in placing themselves in right relation to life, patients can do much to cooperate with the physician’s efforts for their recovery.
There are thousands who can recover health if they will. The Lord does not want them to be sick. He wants them to be well and happy, and they should make up their minds to be well. Often invalids can resist disease simply by refusing to yield to ailments and being inactive. Rising above their aches and pains, let them engage in useful employment suited to their strength. By such employment and the free use of air and sunlight, many an emaciated invalid might recover health and strength.
Bible Principles of Cure
For those who would regain or preserve health there is a lesson in the words of Scripture, “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18. Not through the excitement or oblivion produced by unnatural or unhealthful stimulants, not through indulgence of the lower appetites or passions is to be found true healing or refreshment for body or soul. Among the sick are many who are without God and without hope. They suffer from ungratified desires, disordered passions, and a condemning conscience. They are losing their hold on this life, and they have no prospect for the life to come.
Care givers should not hope to benefit these patients by granting them frivolous, exciting indulgences. These have been the curse of their lives. The hungry, thirsting soul will continue to hunger and thirst so long as it seeks to find satisfaction here. Those who drink at the fountain of selfish pleasure are deceived. They mistake hilarity for strength, and when the excitement ceases, their inspiration ends and they are left to discontent and despondency.
Abiding peace, true rest of spirit, has but one Source. Christ spoke of this when He said, “‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’” Matthew 11:28. “‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.’” John 14:27. This peace is not something that He gives apart from Himself. It is in Christ, and we can receive it only by receiving Him.
Christ is the wellspring of life. That which many need is to have a clearer knowledge of Him. Patiently and kindly, yet earnestly, they need to be taught how the whole being may be thrown open to the healing agencies of Heaven. When the sunlight of God’s love illuminates the darkened chambers of the soul, restless fatigue and dissatisfaction will cease, and satisfying joys will give vigor to the mind and health and energy to the body.
We are in a world of suffering. Difficulty, trial, and sorrow await us all along the way to our heavenly home. But there are many who make life’s burdens doubly heavy by continually anticipating trouble. If they meet with adversity or disappointment, they think that everything is going to ruin, that theirs is the hardest lot of all, that they are surely coming to want. Thus they bring wretchedness upon themselves and cast a shadow upon all around them. Life itself becomes a burden to them.
But it need not be thus. It will require a determined effort to change the current of their thought. But the change can be made. Their happiness, both for this life and for the life to come, depends upon fixing their minds on cheerful things. Encourage them to look away from the dark picture, which is imaginary, to the benefits that God has strewn in their pathway, and beyond these to the unseen and eternal.
For every trial, God has provided help. When Israel in the desert came to the bitter waters of Marah, Moses cried to the Lord. The Lord did not provide some new remedy; He called attention to something that was at hand. A shrub that He had created was to be cast into the fountain to make the water pure and sweet. When this was done, the people drank of the water and were refreshed. In every trial, if we seek Christ, He will give us help. Our eyes will be opened to discern the healing promises recorded in His Word. The Holy Spirit will teach us how to appropriate every blessing that will be an antidote to grief. For every bitter drink that is placed to our lips, we shall find a branch of healing.
We are not to let the future, with its hard problems, its unsatisfying prospects, make our hearts faint, our knees tremble, our hands hang down. “‘Let him take hold of My strength,’” says the Mighty One, “‘that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me.’” Isaiah 27:5. Those who surrender their lives to the guidance and service of God will never be placed in a position for which He has not made provision. Whatever our situation, if we are doers of His word, we have a Guide to direct our way. Whatever our perplexity, we have a sure Counselor. Whatever our sorrow, bereavement, or loneliness, we have a sympathizing Friend.
If in our ignorance we make missteps, the Savior does not forsake us. We need never feel that we are alone. Angels are our companions. The Comforter that Christ promised to send in His name abides with us. In the way that leads to the City of God, there are no difficulties that those who trust in Him may not overcome. There are no dangers that they may not escape. There is not a sorrow, not a grievance, not a human weakness, for which He has not provided a remedy.
None need abandon themselves to discouragement and despair. Satan may come to you with the cruel suggestion, “Yours is a hopeless case. You are irredeemable.” But there is hope for you in Christ. God does not tell us to overcome in our own strength. He asks us to come close to His side. Whatever may be the difficulties that weigh down soul and body, He waits to set us free.
He who took humanity upon Himself knows how to sympathize with the sufferings of humanity. Not only does Christ know every soul and the peculiar needs and trials of that soul, He knows all the circumstances that chafe and perplex the spirit. His hand is outstretched in pitying tenderness to every suffering mortal. Those who suffer most have most of His sympathy and pity. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and He desires us not only to lay our perplexities and troubles at His feet but to leave them there.
It is not wise to look to ourselves and study our emotions. Should we do this, the enemy will present difficulties and temptations that weaken faith and destroy courage. If we study closely our emotions and give way to our feelings, we shall entertain doubt and entangle ourselves in perplexity. We are to look away from self to Jesus.
When temptations assail you, when care, perplexity, and darkness seem to surround your soul, look to the place where you last saw the light. Rest in Christ’s love and under His protecting care. When sin struggles for mastery of your heart, when guilt oppresses the soul and burdens the conscience, when unbelief clouds the mind, remember that Christ’s grace is sufficient to subdue sin and banish the darkness. Entering into communion with the Savior, you enter the region of peace.
The Healing Promises
“The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.” Psalm 34:22.
“In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge.” Proverbs 14:26.
“Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, And my Lord has forgotten me.’ ‘Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.’” Isaiah 49:14-16.
“Fear not; for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.
Nothing tends more to promote health of body and of soul than does a spirit of gratitude and praise. It is a positive duty to resist melancholy, discontented thoughts and feelings—as much a duty as it is to pray. If we are heaven-bound, how can we go as a band of mourners, groaning and complaining all along the way to our Father’s house? Those professed Christians who constantly complain, and who seem to think that cheerfulness and happiness are a sin, do not have genuine religion.
Those who take mournful pleasure in all that is melancholy in the natural world, who choose to look upon dead leaves rather than gather beautiful living flowers, who see no beauty in grand mountain heights and in valleys clothed with living green, who close their senses to the joyful voice that speaks to them in nature, and which is sweet and musical to the listening ear—these are not in Christ. They are gathering to themselves gloom and darkness when they might have brightness, even the Sun of Righteousness arising in their hearts with healing in His beams.
Often your mind may be clouded because of pain. Then do not try to think. You know that Jesus loves you. He understands your weakness. You may do His will by simply resting in His arms.
It is a law of nature that our thoughts and feelings are encouraged and strengthened as we give them utterance. While words express thoughts, it is also true that thoughts follow words. If we would give more expression to our faith, rejoice more in the blessings that we know we have—the great mercy and love of God—we would have more faith and greater joy. No tongue can express, no finite mind can conceive the blessing that results from appreciating the goodness and love of God. Even on earth we may have joy as a wellspring, never failing, because fed by the streams that flow from the throne of God.
Then let us educate our hearts and lips to speak the praise of God for His matchless love. Let us educate our souls to be hopeful and to abide in the light shining from the cross of Calvary. Never should we forget that we are children of the heavenly King, sons and daughters of the Lord of hosts. It is our privilege to maintain a calm repose in God.
“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, … and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15. Forgetting our own difficulties and troubles, let us praise God for an opportunity to live for the glory of His name. Let the fresh blessings of each new day awaken praise in our hearts for these tokens of His loving care. When you open your eyes in the morning, thank God that He has kept you through the night. Thank Him for His peace in your heart. Morning, noon, and night, let gratitude as a sweet perfume ascend to heaven.
When someone asks how you are feeling, do not try to think of something mournful to tell in order to gain sympathy. Do not talk of your lack of faith and your sorrows and sufferings. The tempter delights to hear such words. When talking on gloomy subjects, you are glorifying him. We are not to dwell on the great power of Satan to overcome us. Often we give ourselves into his hands by talking of his power. Let us talk instead of the great power of God to bind up all our interests with His own. Tell of the matchless power of Christ, and speak of His glory.
All heaven is interested in our salvation. The angels of God, thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand, are commissioned to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. They guard us against evil and press back the powers of darkness that are seeking our destruction. Have we not reason to be thankful every moment, thankful even when apparent difficulties stand in our pathway?
Let praise and thanksgiving be expressed in song. When tempted, instead of giving utterance to our feelings, let us by faith lift up a song of thanksgiving to God.
We praise Thee, O God, for the Son of Thy love—
For Jesus who died and is now gone above.
We praise Thee, O God, for Thy Spirit of light,
Who has shown us our Savior, and scattered our night.
All glory and praise to the Lamb that was slain,
Who has borne all our sins, and has cleansed every stain.
All glory and praise to the God of all grace,
Who has bought us, and sought us, and guided our ways.
Revive us again; fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, Hallelujah! amen;
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, Revive us again.
Song is a weapon that we can always use against discouragement. As we thus open the heart to the sunlight of the Savior’s presence, we shall have health and His blessing.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.”
“Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!”
“For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.
Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
Bound in affliction and irons—…
They cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
And broke their chains in pieces.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!”
“Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.”
Psalm 107:1, 2; 105:2, 3; 107:9-15; 42:11.
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
This command is an assurance that even the things that appear to be against us will work for our good. God would not bid us be thankful for that which would do us harm.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid? …
For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; …
I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.”
“I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me, and heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God.”
“The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him.”
Psalm 27:1, 5, 6; 40:1-3; 28:7.
One of the surest hindrances to the recovery of the sick is the centering of attention upon themselves. Many invalids feel that everyone should give them sympathy and help, when what they need is to have their attention turned away from themselves, to think of and care for others.
Often prayer is requested for the afflicted, the sorrowful, the discouraged; and this is right. We should pray that God will shed light into the darkened mind and comfort the sorrowful heart. But God answers prayer for those who place themselves in the channel of His blessings. So, besides offering prayer for these sorrowful ones, we should encourage them to try to help those more needy than themselves. The darkness will be dispelled from their own hearts as they try to help others. As we seek to comfort others with the comfort with which we are comforted, the blessing comes back to us.
The fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah is a prescription for maladies of the body and of the soul. If we desire health and the true joy of life, we must put into practice the rules given in this scripture. Of the service acceptable to Him, and its blessings, the Lord says:
“‘Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, “Here I am.”
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul;
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water,
Whose waters do not fail.’”
Good deeds are twice a blessing, benefiting both the giver and the receiver of the kindness. The consciousness of right-doing is one of the best medicines for diseased bodies and minds. When the mind is free and happy from a sense of duty well done and the satisfaction of giving happiness to others, the cheering, uplifting influence brings new life to the whole being.
If you are an invalid, instead of constantly wanting sympathy, seek to impart it. Let the burden of your own weakness and sorrow and pain be cast upon the compassionate Savior. Open your heart to His love, and let it flow out to others. Remember that all have trials hard to bear, temptations hard to resist, and you may do something to lighten these burdens. Express gratitude for the blessings you have; show appreciation for the attentions you receive. Keep the heart full of the precious promises of God, that you may bring forth from this treasure words that will be a comfort and strength to others. This will surround you with an atmosphere that will be helpful and uplifting. Let it be your aim to bless those around you, and you will find ways of being helpful, both to the members of your own family and to others.
If those who are suffering from ill health would forget self in their interest for others, if they would fulfill the Lord’s command to minister to those more needy than themselves, they would realize the truthfulness of the prophetic promise, “Then your light shall break forth like the morning, and your healing shall spring forth speedily.”