OVER AND OVER again as I have worked with patients, I have found them feeling guilty over having come to the hospital at all for help. This was especially true when I served for more than two years as a nurse in a small, church-operated community hospital. Such patients have con fessed, "If only I had had enough faith, I could have been healed through prayer and saved all this trouble and expense."
Such confessions always remind me of the Bible story of King Asa, who ruled in Jerusalem almost three thousand years ago. He was one of the godliest rulers that ever followed King David on his throne. In his old age, how ever, he made a sad mistake, one that millions of Americans are making every day in our own generation. Second Chronicles 16: 12, 13 tells us:
"And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was dis eased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians.
"And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign."
Note that "he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians." And the next words tell us that he died not long afterward. Friend, if it is a matter of choosing between God and all the human doctors in the world, then by all means choose God! He is the great physician.
But is it necessary to make any such choice as this? I'm reminded of the fact that it was Luke, the beloved physician, who recorded so many miraculous healings in his Gospel and in the book of Acts. But there is no evidence that Luke himself was a worker of miracles. With such natural remedies and wise counsel as were available to the physician of that day, he worked with God for the healing of the sick.
Are miracles to be expected at this point in the history of the world? They certainly are! Thou sands of people are alive and well today who can testify that these words are true. The Bible instructs us to anoint with oil and pray for the sick, and declares with confidence, "The prayer of faith shall save the sick" (James 5:15). There are, of course, conditions attached to such miraculous healing, as indicated in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy writings.
We need to realize, however, that Cod never works a miracle to encourage us to be lazy. So long as it is possible for us to work together with Him, He prefers to let us do it, rather than do the job without us. This is for our sakes rather than for His. As any mother well knows, very often it is easier to do the dishes herself, than to go to the time and trouble of letting little Suzy help. But Suzy needs to help. It is an essential part of her training for life.
Do you remember the story of how a whole nation of more than a million people miraculously crossed the Red Sea and wandered for forty years in the desert? And they never went hungry. Day after day, six days every week, God sent the manna. It came with the morning dew and lay over the ground something like scattered popcorn. You can find this story in the book of Exodus, chapter 16. But how about when the children of Israel finally crossed the Jordan River into the land of Canaan? Did the miraculous feeding continue, now that they were in a place where they could plant and cultivate and harvest? Oh, no! When they were where they could provide for themselves, God stopped providing for them.
Or did He? Had God finally stopped providing their food, just because it no longer came miraculously? Not at all! As Paul expressed it long afterward, "God gave the increase." And the psalmist wrote, "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth" (Ps. 104:14). God is very much at work in all that we call nature. But too often we fail to give Him the credit.
Why not then apply this same principle to our health and healing? We live in that amazing day long prophesied in the Bible when "many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Dan. 12:4). We have at our finger tips such a wealth of information as former generations scarcely dreamed of. Much of this information has to do with these wonderful bodies of ours, how they work—we call that physiology; how to take care of them so as to keep well—we call that hygiene; and how to care for them so as to help them get well when we're sick—we call that medicine.
Do you think our loving heavenly Father wants us to throw all this information into the wastebasket in order to show His power to work miracles? Why, this would be presumption! Rather, He invites us to be "workers together with him" (2 Cor. 6:1). This means that the more we under stand about the operation of God's so-called natural laws, the more He is going to hold us ac countable to act in harmony with these laws in everything we do, including what has to do with health and healing. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).
I have come to the conclusion that the greatest act of faith is not necessarily to believe in and expect the working of miracles— even though I do very much believe in miracles. The greatest act of faith is to see God at work in the everyday world in which we live, and to live every moment in complete and conscious dependence on Him.
King David, with all his faults, was this sort of man. God called him "a man after mine own heart." Strong and active as a shepherd boy, he won the admiration of his comrades as a high jumper. He did it, however, not to show what he could do, but what Cod could do with a healthy, strong human body. "By my God," he tells us, "have I leaped over a wall" (Ps. 18:29). He himself was just the instrument. If God had picked him up bodily, lifted him over the wall, and dropped him down on the other side, would we not have called that a miracle? But what is so great a miracle as when a David or a Paul can say, "It is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me"? So David ran, and he jumped, and did it with all his might. Then, instead of patting himself on the back with foolish human vanity, he gave all the credit where it belonged—to God.
Do you see, then, what was wrong with King Asa when in his time of sickness he "sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians"? The trouble, as I see it, was not that he let the doctors help him. The trouble was that in doing so he became in his own mind dependent upon them instead of on the only one who really has the power to heal. At the very best, the human physician is but an instrument in the hand of God, a worker together with Him. And I not only want to remember this myself but as far as possible make sure that my doctor remembers it too.
It has been my great privilege to be associated with praying physicians, whose great interest in life is not worldly wealth or technical achievements, but to serve the sick and needy as Jesus did. It is true that their methods are somewhat different from His. But this is only because they live in a different age from the one in which He walked the earth. They are able to be workers together with Him, not only in the exercise of saving faith but also in careful, skillful, painstaking cooperation with the marvelous working of God's laws in the human body and mind.
As wise parents seek to do with their children, the Christian doctor teaches his patients to put their confidence, not so much in himself, as in the Master Physician. He points them upward. He teaches them that their bodies are the temple of the living God and should be treated with reverence and care. They are to believe, not in the medicines or the methods of treatment, no matter how useful they may be, but in the healing hands of the Great Physician, who may use these, if He will, for our help and healing. Then, when all we can do to work with God by these natural means has failed—as it sometimes does— to bring the desired results, what a thrill to kneel with a Christian doctor, and follow the Bible plan of anointing with oil, asking God to do that work of healing if it be in accordance with His will.
We do believe in miracles. We believe in the supernatural. But we also believe in the natural, and that the natural is just as much the direct work of God as the supernatural. To all practical purposes, the natural is the more important for us to understand, because we live in it and with it every hour of the day.
But we can understand and appreciate natural laws and their operation only when, like David of old, we give credit where credit is due, to the God who put them into operation and who upholds all things by the word of His power.