In another article, we looked at basic etiquette and the need to listen when visiting Christians who are sick. Now we are ready to consider how to share spiritually with them.
Keeping in mind that “love is patient,” we should not rush to declare a solution to their spiritual need. Remember Job’s advisors! Having said this, we do want to provide a word “in season.”
A great burden is lifted from our shoulders when we realize that we don’t have to give a sermon or be a professional counselor. Our role is simply to help the sick person find the Lord in his situation. With this in mind, I always pray just beforethe visit, asking the Lord for humility, sensitivity and wisdom. These are basic for being a channel God’s of comfort.
Need for Wisdom
The Lord has promised the Christian wisdom in various trials, if we patiently trust Him (James 1:5-8). This wisdom may be an understanding of the purpose for his suffering—that’s the “why?” question. Or it may be wisdom for handling the suffering—that’s the “how?” question—even if the first question doesn’t get answered!
The conscientious elder will study the biblical theme of suffering to determine both the reasons why God allows suffering and how Christians are to biblically respond. Some key passages to consider are:
- Book of Job (learning trust and patience 13:15 and inevitability of suffering 5:7)
- 2 Cor 1:3-4 (comfort that enables us to comfort others)
- 2 Cor 12:7-9 (grace & strength)
- Hebrews 12:5-11 (chastening)
- Hebrews 5:8 (obedience in suffering)
- Deut 29:29 (some reasons not revealed)
- Phil 1:29 (glorifying God)
- Romans 8:28 (all things work to the good for believers)
- John 9:3 (testimony to others)
- Jeremiah 32:27 (God is able)
Need for God’s Love
We cannot presume to know for sure what God is doing in the person’s life. But, one thing is certain, God loves the individual and he needs that affirmed. For this, there is an abundance of scripture you could share.. Psalm 23, of course, is the classic. But, you will want to develop a list of pertinent verses. I would suggest keeping a list of “comfort” verses on the blank pages at the back of your Bible. You can add to it when you come across new verses weighed down under the crushing burden of life’s multitude of problems? What is my response as I see them hard pressed by the forces of today’s modern corporate giants or the hectic demanding schedule of home, school, extra studies, second jobs, staggered meals, plus church responsibilities and activities, etc., etc.
One can hardly see the little hand or foot jutting out from under it all that cries out for help. Lord give me, as an elder, the heart to climb into the ambulance with him and ride along for a while. For after all, he may not be my boy, but he is my brother.