Overtaxing the delicate machinery of the human body to the point of nervous exhaustion is a transgression that exacts a full penalty of shattered nerves and weakened powers. "Workers" who are broken in health as a result of intemperance in living and working, and at a time when their matured wisdom in the knowledge of the Word should be of greatest value to the cause of God, are a standing rebuke to the ministers who fail to observe the principles of healthful living themselves while preaching a gospel of health to others.
We are accountable to God for the preservation of the body temple in the fullest measure of health possible, that our minds may be clear and our spiritual perceptions right. Yet how many there are who, because of repeated violations of the laws of health, pay the price of premature weakness. The cost is too great to be ignored—the loss of men in positions in which they are sorely needed, and the loss of sustentation money in the scores of middle-aged men who are "shelved" because of their own neglect.
But it is to the younger workers that the counsel of the Lord must be pressed home with renewed emphasis. For the breakdown that comes from unavoidable sickness, there is excuse; for the breakdown due to repeated violations of the laws of health, there is no excuse. Not even the overwhelming burdens of a busy worker's life of service will be accepted either by nature or by nature's God —the penalty of presumption must be paid in full.
The counsel to students and teachers, physicians and preachers, is plain, pointed, sound, and practical. The man in the twenties and thirties, apparently in the best of health, is the man who needs this counsel. The following suggestions are gleaned from "Medical Ministry" and other acceptable sources.
Exercise the Muscles.—"Exercise is good." "God designs that all parts of the human machinery shall be worked." "Spend rruch time in outdoor work." Vigorous physical exercise will (t) strengthen the muscles, (2) encourage a proper circulation of blood, (3) help to preserve the body from disease, (4) give a healthy outlet to the animal passions, keeping them in bounds, and (5) be a great help spiritually.
Boerhaave, a Dutch physician of the seventeenth century, noticed that hard-work:ng people seldom suffered from indigestion, even after overfeeding. "I cannot help thinking," he said, "that most of our fashionable diseases might be cured mechanically instead of chemically by climbing a bitter wood tree, or cutting it down, if you please, rather than swallowing a decoction of its disgusting leaves."
Activity is the law of life. Lack of exercise clogs the vital machinery with waste material. A long walk, a good swim, vigorous work, stimulates the circulation, increases the appetite, aids the digestion, tones up the system, prolongs the life. You cannot exercise the muscles without affecting the nerves also. To steady the nerves, to strenF.,,thesi the muscles, to develop the chest, to make flexible the spine, to give precision to bodily movements, promptness of action for emergencies, keenness of judgment in important decisions, clearness of mind, and stability of character—exercise. This command is to preachers, students, office workers, everybody—Exercise, Exercise, EXERCISE, EXERCISE!!
Relaxation And Rest.—"Give yourself proper time to sleep." "They who sleep give nature time to build up and repair the wearing waste of the organism." "Many are ruining themselves physically, mentally, and morally by overdevotion to study." "The hours of study and recreation should be carefully regulated."
Two years ago an article appeared in the Reader's Digest, entitled "Take It Easy." Some sober facts were told by the writer. Stomach ulcers, in which tension and worry are causative factors, are cured by "relaxing." Emotional disturbances cause "three quarters of the cases of ulcerative colitis," according to Dr. Albert J. Sullivan of the Yale University School of Medicine. Learn to work easily. Cultivate the habit of restful attention. "Stand up and stretch after every half hour of close eyework. Walk around. Get fresh air if you can."
Advice is easy to give, but difficult to follow. We whip up our tired nerves to meet our overcrowded committee appointments, our busy schedule of meetings. We must keep pace, so we think, with the speeded-up program of our twentieth century. Consequently there is insufficient time for meditation. No time for relaxation, but plenty of time to think it over—after the breakdown. Even Jesus, the Pattern Man, found it necessary to "come apart and rest awhile." These statements, gleaned from Section Four of "Medical Ministry" are all calculated to bring every student, teacher, and preacher into line with right habits of living.
"Students [yes, and teachers and preachers also) should be taught how to breathe, how to read and speak so that the strain will not come on the throat and lungs, but on the abdominal muscles."
Intemperance in study is a species of intoxication."
"The teachers themselves should give proper attention to the laws of health, that they may preserve their own powers in the best possible condition, and by example as well as by precept, may exert a right influence on the pupils."
''There should be regular hours for working, regular hours for eating."
"Procure those articles of food that are the best for making steam to run the living machinery."
"The indulgence of appetite is the greatest evil with which we have to contend."
Regularity is so essential, and yet how few of us observe regularity in our habits of living! A hurried breakfast—or none at all—then off to class. A quick lunch, poorly prepared and hastily eaten, at inopportune moments. Hurrying here and there at the beck and call of anybody and everybody. Working late into the night. Relaxation becomes a forgotten art; recreation is never even thought of. This is the daily program of many who think themselves "health reformers." From one "campaign" into another, with no rest to ease the pain, is poor policy.
"You can do the very best home missionary work by taking care of God's temple." Do we believe that? Then let's determine to do it!