Human Failure and the Divine Remedy

Health has always been a valued treasure, but today its value is going up.

By EDNA F. PATTERSON, M. D., Staff Physician, Glendale Sanitarium, Glendale, California

Health has always been a valued treasure, but today its value is going up. Just now, it is not only a patriotic duty, but a public necessity, to keep healthy. With the tempo of life stepped up, with the emotional stress and strain now being placed upon the nervous system, how vital it becomes for every individual to take his health bearings anew! The health of a nation is its first line of de­fense, and this line is no stronger than the health of each individual who composes that nation.

The Awakening—The physical condition of Americans was of rather passive concern until the jolt of Pearl Harbor startled us from our sleep. When national draft of man power was ordered, and when men reported for military duty, the medical examining boards found more than forty per cent physically unfit or service. Almost one half of our nation's men, still in the prime of life, physically defective! These men looked sound, and said they felt well, but careful examination and special tests revealed defects in vital structures.

The Committee on National Medical Care dis­closes the alarming fact that on an average day four million people are disabled because of sick­ness! This would be two cities the size of Los Angeles filled with hospital beds. The eco­nomic loss to this nation is tremendous. And all this in the face of so-called modern medi­cine! Furthermore, cold figures do not take into consideration human values, such as phys­ical pain, heartaches, and broken homes.

About half a century ago medical science be­gan making long strides forward in its treat­ment of disease. After wading through the miasma of ignorance and superstition—hang­overs from the Dark Ages—science became aware of the fact that definite laws regulate the processes of disease, that obedience to these laws spells health, but disobedience means dis­ease and death. And so a new word was formed —"prophylactic," or "preventive." Preventive medicine began to be publicized and popular­ized. Here indeed was reason for rejoicing. But so rapid and fascinating was the progress made in the scientific world, that the tendency was to confine the healing art to the laboratory and the "mechanics" of medicine, while the doc­tor-patient relation became more impersonal. The stethoscope and microscope are wonderful assets, but these must be supplemented by a warm personality—a personal interest that can bridge over the mechanics of medicine to the individual's need.

While the average medical doctor was ab­sorbed in his newly found scientific skill, the heartsick patient was often stumbling around trying to find some way out of his sickness, which was frequently mental and spiritual as well as physical. The enemy was ready with a variety of counterfeits. One system of healing advocated "thinking" yourself well. Another capitalized upon the vertebrae of man, assuring the victim that the demon of disease could be "rubbed out." Magic healers with electric ma­chines claimed to have mystic powers for the performing of miracles. Many a discouraged victim, sick in mind and body, failing to find a healing balm in the regular "M. D." office, turned to one of these healing cults—someone who could make him "feel better."

Organized medicine was failing to satisfy the heart's longing. Man was looking for some way out, and God held the plan. His design was written out and made plain on the "blueprint," that all who read it might understand. Be­cause the graduate from the average medical school by wisdom knew not God, a message came to this people to establish a medical col­lege. Here instruction was to be given, not only in the mechanics of disease and medical science, but in how to become a master of the healing art, both physical and spiritual. Great skill was to be imparted in the treatment of disease, but a more important work was to be instituted. Here was to be worked out the gospel in practice. With his medical arm the doctor would cover the physical maladies, and with his spiritual arm he would bind his pa­tient to the throne of God.

Purpose of the Health Message

1. Prepare a people.--The doctor was to be an educator of the people. He was to lead out in the health program, never forgetting spir­itual values.

"To the physician Equally with the gospel minister is committed the highest trust ever, committed to man. Whether he realizes it or not, every physician is en­trusted with the cure of souls."—Ministry of Heating, p. 119.

"His efforts should extend to the diseases of the mind, and to the saving of the soul."—Counsels on ffealth, pp. 195, 1911.

A balanced health program, rightly carried out, would bring health to the church. High standards in living would thus purify its own tnembers first of all. God has promised that if His own people are obedient to His laws, none of the diseases which afflict the heathen shall come upon them.

Every member of the church was to become a "torchbearer" and to be a living example of the health message which he was to bear. They were to come behind in "no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord." 1 Cor, 1:7.

2. An entering Wedge—The health message was designed to break down prejudice and open doors of opportunity for the gospel message.

"Much of the prejudice which prevents the truth of the third angel's message from reaching the hearts of the people, might be removed if more attention were given to health reform. . .

"This branch of the Lord's work has not received due attention, and through this neglect much has been p. 455.

3. A Safeguard against deception.—The world today is looking for some quick way out of its troubles. Thousands are turning to Spir­itualism for the answer. A patient recently said to me, "What your sanitariums need is the power to work miracles." I replied, "No, if one Is so quickly healed, the cause of his sickness will not be understood or removed. Health can be maintained only by obedience to nature's laws."

Too Little and Too Late

Because the devil knows the power connected with medical ministry, he therefore has used his superlative efforts in preventing the carry­ing out of this health message. Surely today is a time of unprecedented opportunity for us to give to the world the knowledge which has been committed to this people. With rationing of sugar, meat, and coffee, and curtailment of liquor, we could step into the gap and show that these articles of diet are not only non­essential but actually harmful.

We have come to the kingdom for such a time as this, but if we continue in our present-lethargic state, then deliverance will surely arise from another source. God's program will be finished and finished on time, whether we enter into the work and receive the reward or not. Many of our most skilled doctors and nurses trained in our institutions have been seduced into money-making and competing with worldly men in mechanical skill, and the med­ical missionary program drags far behind.

The old pioneers who had a vision of our bal­anced program have passed their years of serv­ice, and sometimes it appears that the new thelogical graduates of our schools today have not so much as heard whether there be a health message.

A Bible instructor recently planned to join a young minister in his evangelical effort. In her years of experience she had seen the suc­cess of health lectures combined with the gos­pel work. But the only response she got from the young minister was, "Well, if you plan to work with me, don't bring in any of that health stuff into the program?' Back of this theolog­ical graduate is a college through whose doors pass many other ministers, teachers, and Bible instructors who go forth into homeland or for­eign service; but they are crippled for service before they begin, because they have not been given a training in basic health principles. Fundamental truths on health reform would first preserve their own health, and then pave the way for the entrance of the gospel work in communities in which they work. Making con­verts to the Adventist faith begins, not alone with an altar call, but also with a reformation at the dining table. Mental assent to a code of rules must be evidenced by a transformation in the life. This change usually is centered around fleshly indulgences, such as meat eating, coffee drinking, tobacco chewing, and indul­gence in hurtful lusts. Unless the taste, the stomach, and the hand are also converted, the individual will not, cannot stand.

Ways to Revive Health Education

Where shall we begin to teach these health principles? I would suggest eight places.

1. Mother's Knee.—The hub of the commu­nity and of the nation is the home. The chief actor in that home is the mother. The pattern of life is largely determined by her teaching and example. A strong, well-poised body is far more qualified to forge ahead to success men­tally and less likely to fall a victim to the vices which ruin both body and soul. Physical strength is most essential today in meeting life's strenuous problems. Democracy begins in the home. Very often the habits of intem­perance are formed at mother's table. How vital it becomes, then, for her to know the rules of diet and how to cook properly the food that she serves.

2. In the school.—The youth, in the freshness and vigor of life, should be taught the value of their priceless treasure—health. Many a young person has in a few moments bartered away a life of health and pleasure for one of disease and suffering—only because he was not taught the price of indulgence.

"Every student needs to understand the relation between plain living and high thinking."

"The relation of diet to intellectual development should be given far more attention than it has re­ceived.  Mental confusion and dullness are often the result of errors in diet."—Education, pp- 502, 504.

The cigarette is frequently the cause of the separation of a young man from his religious experience and finally the loss of all eternity. Who will be held responsible because he was not taught that the "laws of his health are the laws of God"? Which is more vital, for the child to be taught all about mathematics and Caesar's wars, or how to grow a strong, useful body and a sound, clear-thinking mind? Les­sons in the structure of this marvelous body and its care should be given by interesting lec­tures and colored slides. They should become permanent blocks in the education of the youth.

How many young persons might be saved to this denomination by correct instruction in re­gard to health! No school is justified in its ex­istence which does not teach the child how to live.

3. In our Colleges.—The laboratory for the making of future doctors, preachers, and teach­ers—yes, and good wives and husbands—is the classroom. How many missionary families have had to return home because of "failure of the wife's health"! Recently I heard a min­ister telling of the tremendous expense of re­turning missionaries, and almost chiding the women for not having better resistance to dis­ease. My heart burned within me, and I wanted to say, "The failure came not in the foreign field of service, but in the early teaching at home, in the grade school, and in the college. The unimportant was stressed, and subjects vital to life were neglected."

4. Physicians and Nurses.—IL is a wonderful thing to be able to save a life, but of how much greater importance is the saving of a soul for eternal life! "Our physicians are to unite with the work of the ministers of the gospel. Through their labors, souls are to be saved, that the name of God may be magnified."—Testimo­ries, Vol. VI, p. 240.

A keen ex-Adventist doctor recently chal­lenged me with, "Ah! seventy-five per cent of the doctors from Loma Linda eat meat any­way." I maintained that the fault does not lie wholly with Loma Linda. How conscientiously and eagerly our dear late Doctor Risley tried to guide the students in right living. As they went out into outside hospitals, they, like Dan­iel of old, were to be living examples of what healthful living would do. But it was hard to change fixed habits. They lived as they had lived before coming to Loma Linda. The influence of the home training far outweighs later teaching.

5. In our Sanitariums.—Many men and women have given up the use of harmful habits while being taught a better way at some sani­tarium, and many souls have been won to Christ by the prayer of the nurse at a patient's bed­side.

"Our sanitariums are to be schools in which instruc­tion shall be given in medical missionary lines. They are to bring to sin-sick souls the leaves of the tree of life."—Id., Vol. II, p. 168.

"Without this union neither part of the work is complete. The medical missionary work is the gospel in illustration."—Id., Vol. VI, p. 241.

6. In the churches—"I was shown that the work of health reform had scarcely been en­tered upon yet. . . . God's people are not pre­pared for the loud cry."—Counsels on Health, p. 453.

"Every church should be a training school for Christian workers. . . . There should be schools of health, cooking schools, and classes in various lines of Christian help work."—Ministry of Realing, p. 149.

This is a work which will bring life to the church and cannot be done by proxy.

7. In the Community.--Did we ever think the time would come when groups of men and women would ask us to come and tell them why we do not eat meat or drink coffee? That time is here. There are scores of civic clubs and organizations that would welcome able speak­ers on health and diet. Whom shall we send, and who will go for us? Should not many a qualified voice answer, "Here am I; send me"?

8. Evangelistic Efforts.—"Our ministers should become intelligent upon [the question of health]. . . . Let them find out what con­stitutes true health reform, and teach its prin­ciples, both by precept and by a quiet, consist­ent example."—Counse/s on Health., p. 449.

"Medical missionary work is in no case to be divorced from the gospel ministry. The Lord has specified that the two shall be as closely connected as the arm is with the body."


Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

By EDNA F. PATTERSON, M. D., Staff Physician, Glendale Sanitarium, Glendale, California

January 1944

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Build Up Your Reserves

If It is perilous to launch an offensive without reserves, then we need to do our part and build up our reserves.

Interchange of Holiday Gifts

Vital Testimony Counsels.

The Landmarks Defined

And Their Relation to the Receiving and Disseminating of Advanced Light

Persuasion the Preacher's Work

Efficient Evangelistic Methods and Pastoral Technique.

The Evangelistic Appeal

Bending the human will to repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Signboards and Lantern Slides

The use of pictures during evangelistic efforts.

Writing for the Press

It is one thing to write an article for the press, but it is quite another thing to pre­pare an article that will get a response.

Bible Work in an Effort

Should the Bible instructor carry on regu­lar Bible studies during the evangelistic effort, or will her work mainly consist of mak­ing contacts with the people and keeping them attending the meetings?

Who Is a Bible Instructor?

The calling of the Bible instructor should be a distinctive office, as much so as that of the minister or the evangelist.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - SermonView - Small Rect (180x150)

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - SermonView - WideSkyscraper (160x600)