Put in plain words here is the answer of the Book of God. God does not send disease and sickness. There are five things to be said about their source.
They come through some open door of disobedience to the laws of the body, either a conscious or an unconscious disobedience.
Or, they may come directly from Satan, but always through some open door on the human side. Or, they may come through God's restraint being withdrawn.
Or, they may come through the general break of sin affecting the whole fabric of life. Or, there may be a blend of two or more of these.
In each case there must be an open door of some sort on the human side. But, then, the open doors are certainly on every hand in great abundance.
So far as the disciplinary side of bodily suffering is concerned, God has no need to send disease. There are plenty of doors of disobedience standing invitingly open to disease. There is no disobedience so common as disobedience of the common laws of health.
This is so among the most earnest Christians, the saintliest folk. There will be more said about this in the Talk on "The Human Side of Health and Healing."
We seem not to think into the common fact that breaking a law of one's body, though not against a moral law, yet takes on a distinctly moral quality. The laws of health are God's laws for the body, as really as moral law's are His for the life.
God's healing, it will be remembered, is three-fold. There is a protective restraint of which one may be quite unaware. One's person is protected. There's a distinct restraint on the disease just at hand threatening.
There is the life-giving, health-giving touch upon one's body, giving vigour and full functioning. And of this touch one is usually quite unaware. The very absence of bodily ills and weakness should be cause for praise. It reveals Christ's direct touch, where the body is committed to His care.
And, then, when sickness or disease actually comes, perhaps through some door left inadvertently open, or otherwise, there may be the positive supernatural healing touch.
When one is led to meet some emergency that taxes or exposes the health unduly, special strength will be given. But one should be very clear of his leading here. Once that is quite clear one pushes confidently on, depending on our unfailing Christ for bodily strength, as for all else.
But one should guard carefully his bodily doors, as all others. There is a spirit warfare on. And one needs to be constantly on guard. In a wholesome, sane, thoughtful way one should guard all the doorways of his life, of every sort. This is especially true of those wholly in Christian service.
John Ruskin tells a simple incident of his childhood days, that illustrates in part what we are talking about. He was present one afternoon when tea was being served.
The copper hot-water kettle was bright, and caught the child's eye. He wanted to touch it, and reached out his hand. The nurse in attendance on the child told him not to. The boy persisted, and the nurse also persisted.
By and by the mother said quietly, "Nurse, let him touch it." He did, for a very brief moment. His curiosity was quickly satisfied. His attention was turned from the kettle to the finger.
The child's ignorant persistence in having his own way, regardless of the expressed wish of those in authority, was deliberately yielded to for a purpose. The restraint was withdrawn. The act of touching the kettle contained its own punishment in the pain that came. The child had learned something. His desire to touch shining copper kettles was satisfied ever after.
But some of us haven't as much sense in other similar things. We still want to touch the shiny kettle. God's commands and laws are never arbitrary. He doesn't simply want to be obeyed because He has the right to be. Though when you come to know Him, you recognize that this would be quite sufficient in itself.
But there's always a reason for our well-being involved. God would keep us from touching the hot kettle, because it will burn. This principle underlies every law and commandment of God to us.
An English friend told us of an experience she had. She was engaged in missionary work in Algiers, on the Mediterranean, at the time. An emergency led to her nursing a typhus patient for a brief time under quarantine regulations.
Then the patient was taken to the hospital. Our friend bathed, changed her garments, taking every precaution known to her, and retired for much needed sleep. She had a dream, unusually vivid and distinct in detail.
In her dream she was riding, and saw a conflict going on between one of her missionary associates and three persons. She seemed to know instinctively that one of these three was the Devil himself.
She hastened forward to help her associate, but a dart was sent by one of the three. And her associate fell as she came between them. Almost mechanically she prayed, repeating the words "the power of the blood of Jesus."
At once the three fell back. Then they came again to the attack. Again she prayed, repeating the same phrase, but apparently without realizing its full significance and power. And again the three fell back.
The third time they pressed up in attack. Then it came to her swiftly, with an intense sense of reality, just what power there was in that prayer, pleading "the power of the blood of Jesus."
Pleading it now boldly, strongly, insistently, the three crouched down and back as though struck. Then slowly, reluctantly, but surely, they disappeared. And her associate was free of their power.
That was the unusual dream. It stood out with singular distinctness. She awakened, and found herself in a high fever. Then the significance of the dream borne in upon her.
She engaged in prayer, in tense insistent prayer, pleading the power of the blood of Jesus. Then sleep came quiet and deep. When she awakened the fever was quite gone. Her pulse and temperature are normal. She was quite cool and well. And with grateful heart she went about her day's task.
Let us keep in touch of heart and life with Christ, guard jealously all the doors, set our selves to keep in that protected zone of obedience, and, when the need comes, go at once to Christ.
Christ is waiting now, at your side, with the touch of supernatural power, to meet every need of body and life.