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Praying to Be Healed

Praying to Be Healed

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY EDWARD LEIGH PELL
BY EDWARD LEIGH PELL

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jun 24, 2013
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06/24/2013

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PRAYING TO BE HEALED
BY EDWARD LEIGH PELL
ONE of the best women I ever knew wassufferer for twenty years, and thoughshe prayed without ceasing she nevergot any relief until she died." What I can't understand is that God shouldbless so many worthless people with good healthand allow the best man I have ever known to besick half of his time.'*" The Christian people of America prayed forPresident Garfield and he died. They prayed forPresident McKinley and he died. Surely if therewere anything in prayer "" I used to believe in God, but since I have suf-fered so much I don't believe any more. There ismy daughter Jane. Jane would give her life tosave me from suffering. If there is a God whydoesn't He pity me like Jane? "And so on and so on. Everywhere it is thesame old story. Everywhere it is the same oldquestion. Since the day that pain first entered theworld there has never been a time when men didnot thrust their noses into one another's face andask why. Why did God let pain come into the171172 What Did Jesus Teach About Prayer?world? Why didn't He make people so that theywould not suffer? How could a good God allowHis creatures to suffer ?Humanity has always been perplexed over theproblem of suffering. And it has always been moreor less querulous and petulant about it. Go whereyou will and the moment you approach a scene of suffering you will become conscious that the at-mosphere is growing heavy with mystery. And itis seldom a mystery that awes you: the sufferermay be awed but the rest of us are only perplexedand annoyed. There is something about the sight
 
of pain that upsets us. We grow impatient andquerulous. Something has gone wrong and some-body is to blame. And in our petulance we liketo indulge our suspicions. No doubt the sick manhimself is partly to blame. And then there arehis ancestors: probably they had something to dowith it. And then there is God. Somehow wecan't keep back the suspicion that it all goes back at last to God.In an immortal document a master thinker of ancient times has left on record the not immodestclaim that although when he was a child he '* spakeas a child " and " understood as a child " and" thought as a child," when he became a man he"put away childish things." I don't think I everrealized the full significance of this frank state-ment until I happened one day to set over againsthumanity's petulant questions about suffering thePraying to Be Healed 173record of this master thinker's own sufferings and-his heroic utterances in regard to them. Theworld has progressed in many ways since Paul'sday, but when it comes to clear thinking in therealm of the spirit it is still far behind that sturdy-minded Jew. In the sphere of matter we are think-ing like men, but in the realm of the spirit weshow no sign of having put away childish things.When Paul thought of pain he thought as a man— a man who could hold his hand in a flame with-out wincing, if need be. When the world of to-day thinks of pain it thinks like a child — like achild who is still smarting from his first spanking.Ever since science set about the ambitious task of reducing human suffering to a minimum wehave been basing all our reasoning about suffer-ing upon the childish assumption that it is an evil— an unnecessary evil for which somebody otherthan ourselves is mainly to blame. Some of oursufferings we charge to our ancestors, some to ourneighbours, some to God, and a few to ourselves;but in most of our thinking on the subject thereis, as I have said, an undercurrent of suspicionthat the blame for them all goes back at last toGod. That at any rate is what we usually meanwhen in the presence of great suffering we shakeour heads and say mournfully, " I can't under-stand it." It is simply a delicate way of sayingthat we don't understand why God did it.It was inevitable that the race should have
 
1 74 What Did Jesus Teach About Prayer ?started out with the theory that all suffering isevil — as inevitable as it was that our little Johnshould start out with it. And it was just as in-evitable that it should have quickly reached theconclusion that it is something for which some-body or something other than ourselves is mainlyto blame. Little children are given to sage re-marks, but I have never known a little child whohad just bumped his head against the floor to risewith the remark that it was his own fault and thatit would do him good. To the child's mind painis something that comes from without, thereforesomething which should be charged to somebodyor something other than himself. Why should hepunish himself for falling upon the floor? Whyshould he not punish the floor for flying up and hit-ting him?Nearly all of our reasoning about suffering thatbegins with " I can't understand why," etc., issimply a translation into adult speech of the child-ish argument that begins with the assumption thatthe bump one gets is an evil and straightway jumpsto the conclusion that the floor is to blame for it.IIIn the study of the human body our scientificage has learned that suffering, instead of being anevil, is in many cases the best thing that can hap-pen. As a danger signal pain has no equal. It isthe only warning that you can always depend upon.Praying to Be Healed 175It will stop the deaf. It will stop the blind. Itwill stop a self-willed child. It is about the onlything that will stop a self-willed child. If onecould stick one's fingers into the fire without painmost of the race would bum up in infancy. More-over we have learned that suffering, instead of be-ing a law of death, as we used to think, is a lawof life. We have learned that it is not the processof dying that causes pain, but the process of living.All physical life is a struggle against death, andwhere there is struggle pain is inevitable. Thatpoor fellow who suffered so much the other nightwith his broken leg that he almost despaired of living until morning, did not suffer because deathwas getting the upper hand, but because life was

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