Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH
There is no doubt chronic emotional stress, fears, and various negative feelings impact our body and health in a similar way as bad diet or lack of exercise. It has been suggested that almost all common health conditions are related to stress, low mood, fear, irritability, hatred, and other negative emotions.
We are told that in order to be able to prevent health problems or recover from them we should exercise on a regular basis and be on a healthy unrefined diet. However, if we really want to be very effective in achieving this goal we also need to add another aspect of a healthy lifestyle which is most vital. We need to take care of the emotional and spiritual aspect of our life, have a strong faith, find out how to control stress and have peace of mind, and learn to think positive while avoiding negative attitudes, feelings and words.
HUMOUR & LAUGHTER
One of the most effective and at the same time neglected natural remedies is laughter. It greatly benefits our health because it increases the feel-good hormones – endorphins which strengthen our immune system and are regarded as powerful pain-killers. Researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered that just 20 seconds of laughter could be as good for the lungs as three minutes of vigorous exercise. If you’re not sure the laughter therapy is worthy to try, remember that children laugh about 400 times a day whereas adults manage a miserable 0 to15!
Laughter is a great way to cope with the effects of stress. And it is good to know that our body can’t really see any difference between real and fake laughter – so any giggle (real or fake) will do the trick. Laughter doesn’t seem to come easily to all of us, but even if you are not able to induce a genuine laughter then try to imitate it. It will still benefit your health. Fortunately, the body can’t actually distinguish between real and fake laughter. Therefore, faking it has the same beneficial effect.
Humour has been used as a natural health treatment for centuries. Physicians used humour to distract patients from pain as early as the 13th century. Also today there are doctors and medical centres that use it as a part of treatment. Dr Lee Berk of Loma University Medical Centre, has been conducting laughter therapy research for decades. In 1989, Berk studied the effects of laughter in healthy males. Five experimental subjects watched an hour-long comedy while others didn’t. Blood samples taken from the participants revealed that cortisol (the hormone our body releases under stress) had decreased more rapidly in comparison to the control group. The research has also revealed that the level of natural killer cells (immune cells that fight viruses and cancer cells) was increased through laughter.
Laughter therapy trains us to laugh even when we are not happy. Laughing in spite of anger, stress or anxiety will actually improve our mood. And it’s contagious, stimulating others around us to start laughing or at least smiling.
Norman Cousins claims to have cured himself with a self-invented regimen of laughter and vitamins after years of chronic pain. In his book Anatomy of an Illness, he describes how watching comedies helped him recover. After evaluating participants before and after watching a comedy or funny video, studies have revealed that laughter helped to reduce pain, decrease stress-related hormones and boost the immune system. Dr Annette Goodheart has been using laughter to treat cancer, AIDS, depression, and other illnesses and been teaching at universities, schools, organisations and public events, trying to bring laughter to every part of the world.
In 2001 scientific American magazine published an excellent example of placebo effect: „Neurologists in British Columbia used scans to determine the amount of dopamine activity in the brains of patients with Parkinson’s disease when given either a placebo or real drug that mimicked dopamine. Results showed that the brains of patients given the placebo responded by releasing as much dopamine as those that got the active drug.”
There was no difference as far as effectiveness was concerned! It is even more mindboggling that according to studies, „Placebo Still Works even Though You Know its A Placebo!” However, we need time to be ‘conditioned’ into believing the placebo is working. It works if we belief in the power of the treatment. The brain then responds as if it were a ‘real event’, even when we know we’re taking a placebo.
In one study, which took place in Italy, two groups of participants with and without lactose intolerance were fed with food high in lactose, although in reality it was lactose free. Sure enough 44 % of those with intolerance and a staggering 26 % without it developed symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort!
Also fake surgeries can be just as effective as the real thing, taking the placebo effect to the next level. In one experiment there where three groups of patients with arthritis. The first two groups had real surgery which was supposed to eliminate or reduce arthritic pain. Patients from the third group had a fake surgery but they didn’t know about that. The results were stunning. Those who had the actual procedures did no better than those who had the sham surgery! They all improved the same amount! The results were all in people’s heads.” It proves again how important it is to be very positive and enthusiastic about any treatment we receive or remedy we use.
NEGATIVE THOUGHTS EMPOWER ADDICTIONS
In a very interesting experiment scientists divided women into two groups. Both groups received an identical milkshake to drink, but first group was informed that their milkshake was very high in calories, the second one was told it was low in calories. After women consumed the milkshake all of them received a big bowl of chocolate ice cream. Guess which group consumed more of the ice cream? The participants who were persuaded that their milkshake was high in calories consumed more ice cream! It is not difficult to explain this phenomenon when we take into consideration the fact that when most of us are overcome by the temptation and eat something we know is unhealthy then we feel discouraged and have a tendency to go the whole hog.
Recently I was listening to an excellent lecture on depression by Dr. Neil Nedley in which he mentioned about a woman who was on a diet but when she saw an ice cream in her fridge she thought it wouldn’t be a crime if she had a little. But after she ate some of the ice cream she felt as if she had committed a crime. As a result she felt so down that she said to herself, “I am nothing but a pig”, and then she consumed the entire 2 litre box.
SPENDING MORE TIME IN NATURE AND EXPOSING BODY TO THE SUN HELPS BEING POSITIVE
While trying to be positive keep in mind that it is much easier if you manage to spend more time in nature and expose your body to the sun as in this way you will stimulate your body to make more happy hormones. In the beautiful book Ministry of Healing, Ellen G. White wrote: “The sick, shut within four walls, look out on houses and pavements, with perhaps not even a glimpse of blue sky or sunshine, of grass or flower or tree. Shut up in this way, they brood over their suffering and sorrow, and become a prey to their own sad thoughts. The pure air, the glad sunshine, the flowers and trees, and outdoor exercise amid these surroundings, are health- and life-giving. Outdoor life is the only remedy that many need. It has a wonderful power to heal diseases caused by the excitements and excesses of fashionable life, a life that weakens and destroys the powers of body, mind, and soul. How glad would they be to sit in the open air, rejoice in the sunshine, and breathe the fragrance of tree and flower”. Taking care of others, helping people in need, going for a walk, enjoying life and the beauty of nature is very effective in improving mood.
Research provided evidence that spiritual feelings, or a sense of awe when we look at a beautiful scene or hear uplifting music, cause a powerful anti-inflammatory response in our body that’s as powerful as drugs. Those positive feelings boost the immune system, and lower levels of cytokines, proteins that cause inflammation associated with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease or clinical depression.
THE POWER OF IMAGINATION
One of the key causes of physical diseases is ill imagination, anxiety, depression, fears, and inability to control stress. Our mind and the way we think can have a tremendous influence on our body and health.
According to certain very interesting experiment scientists told a group of men to lie down with their eyes closed and imagine a hard body building training for 15 minutes five times a week. It is also important that, while imagining, they were not allowed to strain their muscles. The results were mindboggling. After certain time scientists examined those men and were very surprised when they found out that the muscle tissue of those men was 13% bigger than before the experiment! Their muscles were enlarged as a result of imagination without any physical activity!
It is interesting that over a hundred years before modern science proved it an American prolific author, by the name Ellen White, seemed to know about this, even though she lived in XIX century. In her beautiful book Mind, Character and Personality she wrote the following inspired words: „Few realize the power that the mind has over the body. A great deal of the sickness which afflicts humanity has its origin in the mind and can only be cured by restoring the mind to health… The mind needs to be controlled, for it has a most powerful influence upon the health. The imagination often brings severe forms of disease.
Many die of diseases which are mostly imaginary. They bring upon themselves actual disease by the influence of the imagination… Thousands are sick and dying around us who might get well and live if they would, but their imagination holds them. They fear that they will be made worse if they labor or exercise, when this is just the change they need to make them well. Without this they never can improve. They should exercise the power of the will, engage in useful employment, and forget that they have aching backs, joints, or heads.”
It simply means that negative imagination can greatly contribute to different health problems. I remember that years before my father died from time to time he expressed his belief that he wouldn’t live longer than 70 years, and guess at what age he died? He died when he was 70 years old. It is possible that in this way, he somehow inspired his body to program its death and duration of life. And even if it wasn’t the key cause of his death I believe it contributed to his premature death.
WHY IMAGINATION, MENTAL ATTITUDES AND EMOTIONS CAN INFLUENCE THE BODY
Now, we need to answer the question why the placebo or nocebo effect can be so powerful? According to Ivan Staroversky, „It is important to remember that cells, tissues and organs of the body do not question the information that is sent to them from the brain through the nervous system. Thus, our thoughts have the power to change our body chemistry.”
The psychological influence of our mind-set, imagination or mental attitude can be so powerful because brain is the managing director in our body and all the rest of the body including internal organs are controlled and ruled by the brain and they always do their best to obey mind’s thoughts and emotions.
The best example of a huge influence of the mind on our body and health are the 116 autoimmune diseases. When we carefully study the physiology of our immune system we quickly get an impression that somehow our immune system behaves in an incredibly intelligent way. It is also clear that the immune system is very closely connected to the brain and nervous system and that white blood cells respond to different physiological and even psychological needs. One scientist trying to express this idea even suggested that leukocytes behave like “pieces of brain scattered all over the body”.
There is no doubt brain is the most important part of human body. Brain in our organism is like a “king” and because of that, no cell, including the immune system cells, ever question any information, signals or anything coming from the brain. That is why the placebo or nocebo effect (a positive or negative attitude of the brain) can impose such a powerful effect on body’s physiology and health. Knowing this we can draw some very important conclusions which will help us to understand how mental attitudes and emotions can influence the immune system cells to either destroy thyroid or stimulate it to make more hormones.
According to Dr Sang, when a woman suffers from a chronic anxiety or depression, when she has negative attitude toward life, keeps on thinking about death or suicide, or if she is overwhelmed by any other negative thoughts and emotions, her intelligent and closely connected to the brain immune system gets a clear impression that the “boss” (brain) doesn’t want to live. Therefore, like obedient soldiers the white blood cells feel obliged to fulfil the desire of the “chief commander”, so they turn against its own body and begin to attack different organs.
The whole situation is made even more dangerous when a depressed woman does not exercise, and since only a dead body does not move, the leukocytes draw a conclusion that she is already dead so why they should protect the dead body! If she is dead it is more reasonable rather to attack the body and accelerate the decaying process!
But, someone may argue that, if pessimism, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases, how to explain that sometimes babies or small children are diagnosed with autoimmune diseases such as lupus, eczema, or type 1 diabetes? They couldn’t trigger these conditions through their pessimism. Well, also in this case the cause is also most often related to the negative mental attitude. Babies that were born with or developed autoimmune conditions either inherited overreacting immune system or their immune system was negatively influenced by mother’s nervous system (depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, etc.) when they were in their mother’s womb. There are many women who during pregnancy were depressed or even attempted to commit suicide and gave birth to children who sooner or later were diagnosed with autoimmune diseases. In addition babies are very often deficient in Vitamin D ad are fed with cow’s milk and it is scientifically proved that both factors also contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases.
It is also very interesting that immune system not always causes autoimmune diseases by destroying specific tissues and organs but sometimes it stimulates them to be overactive. The classic example is the Graves hyperthyroidism (another autoimmune condition), in which the behaviour of the immune system seems to be very opposite than in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In Graves hyperthyroidism, instead of attacking and destroying the tissue, leukocytes just stimulate thyroid to make even more hormones! Now, why on earth in this case the immune system changed its tactics and instead of killing thyroid gland it just decides to “help” it to work much harder?
Dr Sang Lee suggests the following answer. If a woman lives a very stressful lifestyle, always tries to do her best in performing her duties at home and work, often in a hurry, dealing with many different things at the same time, if she doesn’t rest and sleep long enough at night, gets often nervous or irritated, drinks coffee or uses other harmful stimulants to increase her energy so that she could be more efficient, then guess what the “intelligent” immune system do. Since human immune system reacts to the psychological wishes of the brain it says, “Ok, since the boss is very restless, and wants be more energetic and efficient in performing different duties, let us then send antibodies to the thyroid and stimulate it to make eve more hormones, and in this way we will fulfil the wish of the boss.”
Well, if this idea is true, and research seems to provide enough evidence that autoimmune diseases are closely link to depression, anxiety and chronic stress, then the best way to prevent and treat them is by stress control, positive thinking, laughter, frequent smiling, taking care of others, helping people in need, going for a walk, and enjoying life and the beauty of the nature. As a result, those smart and intelligent invisible tiny soldiers (the white blood cells) will never attack your own body (or will stop doing it) but will protect and fight for you like Kamikazes.
RECOVERY THROUGH IMAGINATION
Staroversky gives a very good example of how as a child by using positive imagination he strengthened his immune system and quickly recovered from mumps: “At the age of 10 years old, I got infected with the Mumps virus. My mother advised me to think of the viruses that I had as intruders inside my body and that in my imagination I must use my own army to defeat them. Without any doubts, with strong desire and full belief in what she said, I made a firm decision to beat the bad guys inside my body. I lied down and visualized a huge battlefield with the good and the bad army. And, in my imagination the good army in me quickly defeated the invaders. The next day the mumps symptoms began to disappear.”
FEAR & BAD ATTITUDE NEGATIVELY INFLUENCE THE PHYSIOLOGY OF HUMAN BODY
Previously quoted Elle White, gives also an excellent example how fear and a pessimistic mind-set can negatively influence the physiology of human organism: „If your mind is convinced that a bath will injure you, the mental impression is communicated to all the nerves of the body. The nerves control the circulation of the blood; and the good effects of the bath are lost. All this happens because the blood is prevented by the mind and will from flowing readily and from coming to stimulate and promote the circulation.”
FEAR & HEMATOHIDROSIS
A very good proof that Ellen White was right suggesting that fear can negatively influence the blood and circulation can be the fact that extreme stress and fear may also lead to a very rare phenomenon or condition called hematohidrosis. Medical dictionaries define hematohidrosis as „Sweating of blood, which occur when a person is facing death or other highly stressful events. It has been seen in prisoners before execution, soldiers before battle, or occurred during the London Blitz.” When during the World War II German airplanes bombarded London some people experienced hematohidrosis. It means they started sweating blood because of extreme fear of death.
In hematohidrosis, extreme fear generates huge doses of stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol that lead to a huge overproduction of harmful free radicals. Those free radicals cause a rupture of the capillaries (very tiny delicate blood vessels) surrounding sweat glands. As a result, the blood from the broken capillaries oozes into the sweat glands through the tiny spaces in between cells, and then from the sweat glands together with sweat it flows out of the skin through the sweat ducts.
CHRIST & HEMATOHIDROSIS
Over 2000 years ago, Luke who was a physician and the author of the fourth gospel, wrote that when Christ was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, just before He was tortured and nailed to the cross, His sweat was like drops of blood. It means He also experienced hematohidrosis: “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)
According to the Bible, Christ was sweating blood because of the unbearable anguish, extreme stress, agony, and suffering which was caused by the fact that He took upon Himself the guilt, fears, and punishment of each one of us, so that by believing in Him and accepting through faith the gift of His supreme sacrifice we might be forgiven and live for ever. Long time before the Son of God was incarnated and born as a man, prophet Isaiah wrote about Him the following beautiful words: „He was punished for what we did. He was crushed because of our guilt. He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace. We were healed because of his pain”.
It means that all those who believe in Christ and accept the free gift of salvation and Him as their Saviour can enjoy the true and constant peace and sense of perfect forgiveness.
FIND TIME TO ENJOY BEAUTY & ALWAYS EXPRESS GOOD EMOTIONS
On the basis of what we have learned about hematohidrosis, we can draw a conclusion that if an extreme fear can damage our blood vessels then also our daily less dramatic but frequent fears and stressors can also impose a very harmful effect on our bodies and health. This is another reason why we need to avoid fears, learn to control stress and be more positive, enjoy life, and express faith, trust, love, and gratitude.
For instance, whenever you see and smell a beautiful flower and you love the scent try to verbally express your positive feelings. As far as fragrance is concerned, my favourite is the one made by lilac flowers. Whenever I go for a walk and see lilac tree I have to stop, smell it, and say, „Wow! Thank you Lord!”
Pause for a while and think, why God created so many beautiful flowers with such amazing aromas? When a man gives many beautiful flowers to a woman, why he does that? Because he loves. So, why we were given so many beautiful flowers in nature? Because the One who created them also wanted to express his love toward us. Whenever He gives something He always does it out of love: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). So, please, whenever you see a beauty in nature stop for a while, smile and express your gratitude and good emotions. It will stimulate the production of happy hormones such a serotonin and endorphins that will energise you, boost immunity and make you feel better and healthier. If you say and feel nothing you get the same, you get nothing!
Some time ago I read about a study which found that black members of Christian evangelical churches on an average live about 5 years longer than white members even if their diet and amount of physical activity is the same! Since the study didn’t manage to explain that phenomenon, we must attempt to do it on our own.
Well, what could be the cause why black Christians live longer than white ones? Is it difficult to find the cause? For me it is easy, because every Saturday I attend the Church which members are black. They live longer simply because, unlike pale faces, they often verbally express their positive feelings, emotions, love, trust, and strong faith in a very enthusiastic and spontaneous way. As a result they produce plenty of good hormones! Serious pale faces don’t say anything and therefore they get nothing. No hormones.
One of the best violinists in the world, Joshua David Bell, decided to make an experiment. He put on a baseball cap and played a beautiful music using his 3.5 million dollar worth violin as an incognito busker at the Metro subway station in Washington, D.C. Of the over a thousand people who passed by during 45 minutes, only a few passers-by stopped to listen to listen to the beautiful music and only one person recognised the famous musician. The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy, but his mother forced him to leave that place. The simple conclusion of that experiment is that almost all of us are too busy to stop and admire beauty. As a result, we are deprived of good hormones that play tremendous role in maintaining health and preventing diseases.
Research provided evidence that spiritual feelings, or a sense of awe when we look at a beautiful scene or hear uplifting music, cause a powerful anti-inflammatory response in our body that’s as powerful as drugs. Those positive feelings boost the immune system, and lower levels of cytokines, proteins that cause inflammation associated with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease or clinical depression.
The Word of God says that we were created in God’s image which means we should be like Him and follow His example. And, what did God do at the end of each of the 6 days of creation? He stopped for a while, saw what He did, and expressed His admiration by saying that “it was good”. And after 6 days when all creation was finished, He took the whole seventh day off in order to rest. Why did He take a rest? Did He do it because He was tired? No, He never gets tired. He took the whole day off to admire the beauty of creation and to exercise a loving relationship with others (Adam and Eve) and to give us an example, to teach us that we need to stop every day for a while and every seventh day for the whole day (from Friday sunset till Saturday sunset) to admire the beauty of His character, His creation and to cultivate loving relation with Him. No aspect of healthy lifestyle is more vital than this. Without daily and weekly communion with God through His Word, heart-felt prayers (>) and admiring the beauty of nature, we are deprived of real peace of mind, His unselfish love and a true meaning of life.
HATRED & UNFORGIVINGNESS – AN UNDERLYING CAUSE OF MANY HEALTH PROBLEMS
Also inability or unwillingness to forgive is another factor which has a very negative effect on our mental and physical health. Hatred and unforgivingness is even classified in medical books as a real health condition or disease. Dr Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, claims that untreated emotional wounds and unforgivingness is one of the true hidden causes of many serious health problems including cancer and various autoimmune diseases. For this reason, a professional forgiveness therapies are now offered to improve treatments of different health problems, such as cancer. According to the book Forgiveness Project, written by to Dr. Michael Barry, majority of cancer patients have forgiveness issues which trigger different negative emotions such as hatred or anger. Those bad feelings lead to chronic anxiety and increased levels of stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which suppress the immune system especially the killer T-cells responsible for fighting cancer. The best way to learn true forgiveness and get rid of anger and negative feelings is to study the Word of God (starting from the Gospel of John and other Gospels) and the beautiful book by Ellen White the Desire of Ages, as it will open your eyes and make realize how much we have been forgiven by God. It is the best way to true forgiveness because only when people are able to forgive from the heart they can feel true peace and relief.
Dr. Barry wrote about five patients who claimed they overcame cancer because they managed to forgive from the heart as a result of following the steps described in his book “The Forgiveness Project”. Although Dr. Barry does not claim that forgiveness alone cures cancer yet there is no doubt that through generating positive feelings and removing negative emotions such as anger, bitterness and unforgivingness it strengthens the immune system and generates good hormones. In this way it helps the body to prevent and treat different health problems including cancer.
DO NOT NEGLECT THE SPIRITUAL ASPECT OF HEALTH
It is so vital to understand that in order to be really successful in preventing and treating our health problems, we must learn how to achieve optimum sense of well-being in all spheres of human existence; physical, mental and spiritual.
Most of us know from experience that it is very challenging and often even impossible to control stress, overcome fear, negative attitudes, tendencies to complain and criticise, or to become a positive-thinking person. It is so difficult simply because those negative emotions and fears (such as fear of death) seem to be a part of our nature we are born with.
The good news however is that there are many people who claim to find inward peace and great improvement in emotional health as a result of daily meditation and spiritual communion with a Higher Power. However, not a mantra-type thoughtless and repetitive prayers but only heart-felt daily conversations with God always give great results (>) . As without oxygen we are unable to maintain our physical and mental health likewise without proper regular prayer we are unable to maintain our spiritual health. This is the reason why theologians and spiritual leaders agree that prayer is the breath of the soul.
It means that without regular prayer our spirit will eventually suffocate: “Prayer is the breath of the soul. It is the secret of spiritual power. No other means of grace can be substituted and the health of the soul be preserved… Neglect the exercise of prayer, or engage in prayer sporadically, as seems convenient, and you lose your hold on God. The spiritual faculties lose their vitality.” (Ellen G White, Prayer, p. 12 >) „Satan well knows that all whom he can lead to neglect prayer and the searching of the Scriptures, will be overcome by his attacks. Therefore he invents every possible device to engross the mind.” (Ellen G White, Great Controversy, 519 >)
It is also important to emphasise the fact that, according to the research, this kind of spiritual approach is effective only when combined with a sincere faith in a powerful but at the same time loving and carrying God. On the other hand, believing in a demanding, punishing, harsh, and vengeful God was associated with increased risk of depression and mental disorders including schizophrenia.
Also, thoughtful reading an uplifting spiritual literature such as the Gospel of John (found in the Bible), which through Christ presents God as a loving, saving, healing, forgiving, and self-sacrificing, is another great way to find inward peace, hope and happiness, if such reading is combined with true faith.
Inspired Apostle Paul, in his epistle to Christians in Philippi explains how this true peace of mind can be found: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
LONELINESS VS FRIENDSHIP WITH HIGHER POWER
In one thought-provoking experiment, scientists divided rats into 3 groups, feeding all of them with exactly the same food. In the first group there were three rats. They were hand-fed by scientists who took care of them and played with them every day.
In the second group there were also three rats, but they were not hand-fed and scientists didn’t associate with them.
And finally, in the third cage there was only one single rat who was left alone all the time without any association neither with other rats nor scientists.
According to the fascinating results of this experiment the health of that lonely rat quickly deteriorated and he died much earlier than other rats.
The lifespan of rats from the second group was also shorter than average. They had weaker immune system, were lower in serotonin while higher in stress hormones and therefore they were more aggressive toward each other.
However, the rats that were hand-fed and experienced special care from scientists, were friendly toward one another, they were much healthier, had stronger immune system, lower levels of stress hormones and higher in happy hormones, and their lifespan was almost 40% longer than the average rat lifespan! Also their brains were larger than the brains of rats from other two groups.
Now, what important lesson we can learn from this thought-provoking experiment? Taking into consideration the fact that our life consists of not only physical and mental but also spiritual sphere, let me conclude that if the health and lifespan of those rats were so much better as a result of being cared and protected by human beings, then also in our life we will get similar results if we make friends with a Higher Being (God). If we talk to Him every day, read about His love, power, and care, and truly believe that He cares, protects, saves, and loves us. If we learn to trust and truly believe that He is almighty, can solve any problem, and that even if we die we will resurrect through His power to a new unimaginably wonderful everlasting life.
„The consciousness of rightdoing is the best medicine for diseased bodies and minds. To have a consciousness that the eyes of the Lord are upon us and His ears open to our prayers is a satisfaction indeed. To know that we have a never-failing Friend in whom we can confide all the secrets of the soul is a privilege which words can never express.” (Ellen G. White, 1T 502, 1867)
THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO FREEDOM FROM NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
The most effective way to freedom from fear and other negative emotions has been revealed by inspired Apostle Paul about two thousand years ago: „Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7)
„Many are suffering from maladies of the soul far more than from diseases of the body, and they will find no relief until they shall come to Christ, the wellspring of life. Complaints of weariness, loneliness, and dissatisfaction will then cease. Satisfying joys will give vigor to the mind, and health and vital energy to the body.” (Ellen White, 4T 579, 1881)
Healthy mind and spirit will naturally result in positive, encouraging and kind words that will benefit not only ourselves but also people we associate with, because „pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)
IF HE CARES ABOUT A SPARROW…
One day I was sitting in the forest and meditating. The place was very quiet and nobody was there. But suddenly I heard a noise behind me which seemed to be very close to me. When I turned around I saw a small old sparrow lying on the grass dead. The poor bird must had died while sitting on a tree and fell to the ground. As soon as I saw that dead old sparrow my heart was touched because the words of Jesus Christ immediately came to my mind. Since I had my Bible with me I opened it and with tears in my eyes I read: „Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” By saying this Jesus wanted to emphasize the fact that according to human standards sparrows have a very little value, but not in God’s eyes. “Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered (there are about 150,000 hair follicles on an average head). So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Gospel of Matthew 10:29-31)
EVERY DAY CLAIM GOD’S PROMISES AND THANK HIM FOR FULFILLING THEM BEFORE IT HAPPENS
Travelling, waiting for something, and especially walking give great opportunity to talk to God, to thank and praise Him for the gift of life, for empowerment, and especially for His gift of the wonderful new eternal life which can be ours through faith in His Son. Every day keep on reading the Bible and beautiful books like the Desire of Ages which reveals the love of God through the life of Jesus in most beautiful way. You can try to memorize some great and powerful Bible verses and repeat them while walking. Remember that unlike other books the Word of God doesn’t only talk about power but it contains the saving and transforming power because it is inspired by Holy Spirit. That is why Apostle Paul wrote about it in the book of Hebrews 4:12 that “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Here are some examples of powerful Bible verses and promises that will give you strength and peace and will improve your emotional and spiritual condition if you claim these promises and repeat them with faith, confidence, and thanksgiving:
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10);
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7);
„The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” (Gospel of Luke 4:18);
“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13);
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2);
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice! The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7);
“God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1Corinthians 10:13);
“Everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:8);
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11);
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37);
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John 1:7);
“The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” (1John 1:7);
“If we refuse to admit that we are sinners, then we live in a world of illusion and truth becomes a stranger to us. But if we freely admit that we have sinned, we find God utterly reliable and straightforward – he forgives our sins and makes us thoroughly clean from all that is evil. For if we take up the attitude ‘we have not sinned’, we utterly deny God’s diagnosis of our condition and cut ourselves off from what he has to say to us.” (1John 1:8-10, J. B. Phillips NT Translation);
“Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things are new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17);
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20);
“I urge you (…), offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God (…) And do not conform any longer to the pattern (lifestyle and diet) of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:1-2).
MORAL & SPIRITUAL STRENGTH
In 1990 I had a privilege to participate in a nutritional training which took place in New York. It was conducted by John A. Scharffenberg, M.D., MPH, and Professor of Nutrition at Loma Linda University. During one of his lectures he stated that, “Studies conducted in America demonstrated that if someone became determined to overcome an addiction because of religious beliefs and moral convictions the final success was almost always guaranteed.”
About 30 years ago I myself was addicted to negative thinking, bad attitudes, junk food, smoking, and alcohol. Fortunately, after many pathetic attempts and failures, when I realized I was too week to overcome all those bad habits using my own will power, I started to look for the strength outside of myself. I wanted that freedom and change in my life so much that I even tried spiritism as at that time I didn’t realize how dangerous it was. But when everything I tried failed, I finally decided to give God a chance, although at that time I wasn’t even sure He existed. Yet, one day, I was so desperate that somehow I knelt down on my knees and with tears in my eyes I started to beg God to change me, to give me the moral strength I needed and set me free from my addictions.
Soon after that an amazing process of transformation began in my life. As an answer to my desperate prayer I was given a book titled “The Great Controversy” by Ellen G. White (>). That book made such a huge impression on me that I started to feel a very strong desire to get even more acquainted with this totally new vision of God I had found there. Consequently I started to study the Bible every day and talk with God using my own simple words. As a result I had experienced the ‘new birth’ and became so effectively empowered that eventually I gained total victory over my anxiety, fears, pessimism, bad habits and addictions.
That wonderful experience, which in the Bible is called ‘the new birth’, I could describe using the words of famous Russian writer – Lew Tolstoy, who about his conversion wrote the following words: “When five years ago I came to believe in Christ’s teaching, my life suddenly changed; I ceased to desire what I had previously desired, and began to desire what I formerly did not want. What had previously seemed to me good now appeared to be evil, and what I regarded as evil now seemed good. It happened to me as it happens to a man who goes out on some business and on the way suddenly decides that the business is unnecessary and returns home. All that was on his right is now on his left, and all that was on his left is now on his right; his former wish to get as far as possible from home has changed into a wish to be as near as possible to it. The direction of my life and my desires became different, and good and evil changed places”.
If you wish to become enriched by the same experience and empowerment, please study the small and wonderful book Steps to Christ by Ellen G. White. It is available online free of charge in different formats (including audio):
Please remember that in order to experience the new birth (transformation) and receive the strength you are looking for, you have to carefully and repeatedly study each chapter step by step with understanding, praying and meditating over it, believing and doing exactly what the book says, because only with true faith and whole-hearted involvement you won’t be disappointed. Here is a short passage from this great and inspired book:
“You are weak in moral power, and controlled by the habits of your life. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises weakens your confidence in your own sincerity. But, you need not to despair… You cannot change your heart, but you can give your will to God; He will then work in you. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ… By surrendering your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all powers! You will have strength from above, and thus through constant surrender to God you will be enabled to live a new life. You cannot change your heart but God promises to do all this for you through Christ. You believe that promise, confess your sins and give yourself to God. Just as surely as you do this, God will fulfil His word to you. Do not wait to feel that you are made whole, but say, ‘I believe it; it is so, not because I feel it, but because God has promised.’ There is a condition to this promise, that we pray according to the will of God. But it is the will of God to cleanse us from sin! It is the will of God to make us His children, and to enable us to live a holy life! So we may ask for these blessings, believe that we receive them, and thank God that we have received them! It is our privilege to go to Jesus and be cleansed, and to stand before the law without shame or remorse… Consecrate yourself to God in the morning. Make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, ‘Take me, oh Lord, as totally Yours. I lay all my plans at Your feet… Abide with me, and let all my work be done in You.’ This is a daily matter. Each morning you must consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all of your plans to Him to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into God’s hands, and your life will be moulded more and more after the life of Christ. Your weakness is united to His strength; your ignorance is joined to His wisdom; and your frailty is merged to His enduring might. So you are not to look to yourself or to let your mind dwell upon self, but look to Christ. Let your mind dwell upon Christ’s love and upon the beauty and the perfection of His character”.
Every morning surrender your life and your mind to God in prayer. Often pray while walking, driving, working, and before each meal, thanking God for His gifts, and asking for empowerment with faith. Immediately after you ask thank Him for giving you strength to overcome your bad habits and weaknesses. Pray more for others than for yourself. God loves you and knows what you need anyway. He appreciates when we think and care about others because the foundation of His nature, His Law, government, and all actions is His perfectly unselfish and everlasting love. Keep on doing it every day, be patients, and sooner or later you will surely gain victory and as a bonus you will enjoy a wonderful inward peace, and freedom from existential fears.
Never get impatient, don’t get discouraged or give up if you can’t see the results quickly. Remember that even if sometimes you lose a battle it is already guaranteed that with God you will surely win the whole war, simply because He promises it to you in His Word and He always keeps His promises!
There are other inspired and powerful books by the same author:
Also keep in mind that when you suffer being tempted the periods of strong craving or temptation never last long (usually 5 – 15 minutes), and then they disappear or get much weaker. So be patient and wait for a while. Remember that every time you overcome the temptation you get stronger while the temptation gets weaker and weaker until after some time it disappears completely. Just keep on thanking God and asking with faith for the strength and transformation and you will receive it. God loves you and it is His desire to help you. But He can do it only when you allow Him to work for you and in you. Ask therefore, pray, and submit your life and mind to Him every day using simple words and talking to God like to a loving Father who is almighty and able to solve any problem.
Driving a car, travelling, and especially walking give great opportunity to talk to God, to thank and praise Him for the gift of life, for empowerment, and especially for His gift of the wonderful new eternal life which can be ours through faith in His Son. Keep on reading the Bible and books like the Desire of Ages every day. You can memorize great and powerful Bible verses and repeat them while walking. Remember that unlike other books the Word of God doesn’t only talk about power but it contains the saving and transforming power because it is inspired by Holy Spirit. That is why Apostle Paul wrote about it in the book of Hebrews 4:12 the following words: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
THE WAY WE THINK IS HIGHLY TUNABLE
According to the popular Adventist health promoter and nutritionist Vicki Griffin, “We have destiny secured in the Lord but we need to guard this security because we have it through faith (positive mental attitude). Very famous neuroscientist Mary Kennedy said that such traits as empathy are highly tunable, our emotions, cognition all these things are highly tunable traits. Our perceptions, the way we perceive the way we chose to think about a thing is going to have a very powerful shaping effect on the brain. We need to define what does tunable mean. About 50 % things we do during the day is automatic which means we even don’t think about them. That includes our habits, the food we eat, good or bad, too many doughnuts, or whatever it is. When we repeat certain things it becomes automatic either good or bad habit. Scientists do studies on focus attention. They take different personality types, for instance a negative type of personality. They give them different pictures to look at for certain period of time. For instance they give a picture to look at to participants with tendencies to think negative and a persons who represent a positive type of personality. They give them a picture of a person with skin cancer on the chick. And a negative person would stare at the cancer for the most of the time and they would miss the rest of the picture while those with the basic positive attitude would focus on the whole picture and they would have more to describe what they saw while looking at that picture. It proves that depending on what type of basic personality we are our personality whether positive or negative would reinforce our perceptions the way we look at thing the way we think about them. That is why I always recommend spending time with God, and talk with Him, asking for His Spirit of love, peace, and true joy to influence our minds and even control them, that is why it is so important for our minds to read or even study the Word of God, the Bible, because in this way we will learn to think the way God thinks, we will be able to perceive through God’s eyes the world and reality which surrounds us, we will start looking at people, and different situations and experiences the same way Jesus did when He lived among us in our body and with our mind and even nature. In this way we will become more loving more compassionate, peaceful, less and less self-centred. And as we do that when we have that daily relationship and friendship with God, and we experience the gradual and progressive influence of God’s Spirit on our brains, it actually changes the chemistry of our brains, our brains positively respond to that influence the good hormones and antidepressants such as serotonin or dopamine are elevated because the genes in the brain cells are energized by that powerful influence of that change of our way of thinking when we think in a more positive and enthusiastic way”.
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 unhealthy 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 fulfil 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.”