Visiting the sick

Notes from Pr Deane Clee

General comments.

Physical Sickness

Sickness is a part of life, which comes to us all at times. In the 1930s, a Swiss physician named Tournier proposed the concept that when a person is sick, the whole being is affected – the physical, the psychological and the spiritual.

We read in the scriptures that Jesus when he saw the sick, he was moved with compassion. Likewise, we should have the same approach if we are to help others. We need to have ‘Compassionate Care’. The Gospels devote a number of references tot he topic of healing the sick. The disciples were expected to carry out this healing ministry. For instance, Mark 16 describes, as one of the signs of a believer, that “they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover”. Jesus did not set up a clinic in the temple, rather, he went to the people who were sick.

Old Age

The Bible says that Christians are commanded to honour their parents – “that it may go well with you, and that you may enjoy long life upon the earth”.

Older people are to be respected, cared for, and loved in Christ, along with all age groups. As one gets older our body runs down. We experience declining health and strength, no longer working, limited income, declining ability to think or act quickly, rejection, more vulnerable, get more depressed or frustrated, etc. This group are sick more often, and therefore need understanding by those that are visiting, and each must examine their own attitude towards the elderly to be really effective. It is hard when you are younger to relate to the things which affect the elderly. Try to be empathetic.

Pointer for visiting the sick

Visit frequently, but keep the visits brief (depending on the medical condition of the patient).

Let the patient take the lead in shaking hands, unless you know them well.

Stand up or sit where the patient can see you easily.

Give the patient freedom to talk freely, and listen carefully to there comments. Some want to discuss their feelings and concerns, others like to talk about something else.

Use the spiritual recourses at your disposal, be positive, or build up their faith, about what God can do, and has done for others. Make encouraging comments, share the testimonies of others. Quote and read the scriptures. Leave a small list of scriptures. Check if they have a Bible with them.

It is best to suggest prayer. Be aware of how the patient feels. For example, in a public ward some prefer the curtains closed. The prayer in such a case should be of low volume and kept short.

At a hospital visit, if the door is closed or with a ‘no visitors’ sign, check at the nurses station or reception.

If the sick is at home, then phone before the visit and make sure your visit is at a convenient time.

A phone call between visits helps to check on the patient’s progress or needs.

Do try and call when there are not a number of other visitors present.

Dos ad Don’ts

Dos

  • Be friendly, cheerful, reassuring and comforting.
  • Help the patient feel at ease as much as possible
  • Recognise that anxieties, discouragement, guilt, frustrations and uncertainties may be present.
  • Give reassurance of God’s love, promises and care. He never leaves nor forsakes His people.
  • Give reassurance that you, and others, are upholding the patient in prayer.

Don’ts

  • Talk about your past illnesses, unless it is a real testimony to the Lord.
  • Force the patient to talk, something, your silent presence is reassuring.
  • Visit when you are sick.
  • Talk loudly.
  • Criticise the hospital, treatment or the doctors.

Scriptures:

James 5:14-15
14. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

Psalms 34:15,17,19
15. The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
17. The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
19. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

Matthew 9:29-30
29. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.
30. And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it.

Leave a Reply