Comfort for the wounded

Daily Reading for February 16 • Charles Todd Quintard, Bishop of Tennessee, 1898

Though the bolts are not drawn across the door; though your windows are not barred, yet what bolts or bars could hold you faster than your sickness. Your house is your prison, or your room in the hospital is a cell in the prison; and you yourself are a prisoner of God. Now, in order to profit by your imprisonment, consider first this one great truth, which is revealed to your senses in this your sickness. You are not your own, but God’s. As long as you were well, you may have felt yourself to be your own; you may have gone where you liked, and done what you liked; but now you must needs feel that you are not your own; you have no power over yourself; you are in God’s hands, and you can not resist Him; you are His altogether; your body is His, and your soul is His; you are a witness to yourself of God’s power. He is Lord indeed; you are not your own. . . . He is now teaching you what you have so frequently forgotten—first, that you belong entirely to Him; next, that you contain in yourself great power and capacity of suffering, which, by His Almighty power, might be heightened and lengthened in another world beyond all our powers of conception.

But there is wonderful love in his teachings. Had he given you over, had He ceased to care for you, had He felt no love toward your soul, He would have left you to drift on to destruction. He would not have taught you any lessons in godliness; He would have let you take your own way, and then taken vengeance if you went wrong. But because He wishes you well, He has laid upon your bed that He might plead with you by His spirit. He has taken you by force from the cares, the trials, and pleasures of the world in which you were too much entangled, that He might speak to your soul, and argue with you for good.

He has made time for you to think, because you would not make time for yourself. He gives you pain to humble you, and to convince you of sin, and to make you feel the terrors of the Lord. Everything is prepared for you that you may think; your heart is softened, now that the world is removed from you; your conscience is not deafened by the noises of the world, nor clamored down; it can make itself heard now; now that the noise of the battle is hushed, the “still small voice” can be heard; you are, somehow or other, you know not how, in a more solemn and serious mood, and incline more to the thing of God. Yes, you are under the blessed discipline of the cross. The cross is laid on you; mercy has put this burden on your flesh; your Saviour comes to you in suffering; He who once suffered in the flesh comes to sufferers; He draws near to the sick. His Holy Spirit is in sick-rooms; sickness is the soul’s medicine–bitter, yet yielding sweetness. He would not destroy you, for He has died for you. He would not cast that body into hell, as it is His twice over—once by creation, again by redemption. . . . Look, then, in this way upon your sickness; receive it as you would receive an angel; take it as medicine for the soul from the hand of the Lord.

From Balm for the Weary and the Wounded by Charles Todd Quintard, Chaplain, 1st Tennessee Regiment, Confederate States Army (Columbia: Evans & Cogswell, Printers, 1864).

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