34 PSYCHOTHERAPY : SCIENTIFIC AND RELIGIOUS chap.
may be equally as important as his medical ones. There are some who reverse this order of thinking and, arguing from the verse, ' Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth ', say that God inflicts suffering for a purpose, and that to suffer is therefore a sign of His graciousness. An answer to this proposition which should carry more weight than any learned theological discourse was given by Fikry, a six-year-old child who lived near my home in Upper Egypt, and both of whose legs were affected by infantile paralysis. On visiting him with the intention of reconciling him to his misfortune, a Christian minister said :
' Are you not happy that God loves you so ? '
' Why ? '
' Because He is allowing you to suffer/
' Does God hate you ? '
' Why ? '
' Because He allows you to be healthy/
We must agree with little Fikry's implication that suffering is not the will of God. Disease, whether physiological or psychological, is a disorder in the personality, and God is not the author of confusion but of peace. Whenever disease attacks the body the forces of life, the so-called vis medicatrix naturae, counter-attack with all their might in order to repel the invader. To adapt Jesus' own argument, we may ask how, if God sent sickness, His kingdom could stand, since it would be divided against itself. It must be assumed, therefore, that sickness is just as much contrary to the will of God as any other kind of evil. This does not mean, of course, that an individual's sickness is always the consequence of his own sin, though sometimes it undoubtedly is. Very frequently sickness is the result of others' sin, while it is obvious that if the community at large had a right attitude to God much of the sickness which now seems to be the result of forces