Hey, my friend. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
Have you ever had someone in your church or circle of friends become sick, maybe even have to stay in the hospital? And maybe you wanted to visit them, or you felt God nudging you to visit them, but… you just weren’t sure?
Maybe you didn’t know what to say. Or maybe you felt uncomfortable in a hospital setting. Or maybe you even thought the person was going to die and you didn’t know how to approach them.
I totally get this. I often feel like I’m interrupting others and I usually don’t have a lot to say. So what possible good could I do to visit someone who might be sick or in the hospital?
Yet God has convicted me of this and called me out of my comfort zone to go and do it anyway.
- I have walked into hospital rooms of near strangers to talk with them and pray with them.
- I have visited the home of someone who was ill, offering her an audio Bible since she was unable to see clearly to read on her own.
- I have driven others to their cancer treatments.
And I do so out of love and care. Because they matter.
But it isn’t always easy. And so I have a resource for you that can help. This month, for my book recommendation, I’d like to offer the book Visit the Sick, by Brian Croft.
Here are three reasons why I like it—and I think you will, too.
It’s About Ministering God’s Grace
First, Visit the Sick is all about ministering God’s grace in times of illness.
To minister means to give service or care, to attend to someone’s needs. But it also means to “administer” something, to distribute or pass along. In this case, we are “passing along” God’s grace.
God has called us to take care of those who are sick.
In Matthew 25, Jesus says, “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me” (verses 35-36 NLT).
Brian Croft expands on this by writing, “God has designed his people to care for one another as a powerful representation of his compassion for the weak and needy.”
And isn’t that true? Back when the world faced various epidemics and illnesses, it was often the Christians who stepped in to care for them. In fact, during two plagues in the Roman world, Christians cared for those who were sick instead of deserting them, and in doing so, they saved a lot of lives—and gave a powerful witness to the world around them.
Think back to when someone cared for you when you were sick, whether you were at the hospital or home in bed. Isn’t their care a grace from God? Doesn’t God use their actions to remind you of His compassion and love?
So while yes, we want to care for their physical needs, in doing so, we are also caring for them spiritually, reminding them that they matter and we care about them—and so does God.
It’s a Short, Practical Read
Second, Visit the Sick is a short, practical read. It’s less than 100 pages long, and it walks you through both the theological reasons for caring for the sick, as well as provides very practical advice.
For example, he reminds us to listen to the individual who is sick—not with a posture of trying to solve what is going on, but to companion them along the journey.
In other words, you’re not there to explain theologically why God might be allowing suffering in their lives, or to quiz them on what they did or didn’t do to end up in such a state. You are there to listen, to love, to “weep with those who weep.”
He also shares practical matters like what to do if the person isn’t there in their hospital room or is sleeping, and whether or not to give them a hug or touch them on the hand, and how to prepare your heart for such a visit.
As I said, very, very practical.
It Has Additional Resources in the Back
Third, Visit the Sick has additional resources in the back, like a checklist to help you remember what to keep in mind and some sample conversations that help you see what a visit might look like, especially if you want to talk with them about heaven.
It also has an abridged version of an essay entitled “Sickness” by Anglican bishop John Charles Ryle. This essay provides a rich understanding of sickness and what we might do to care for those in our church and communities who are ill.
Plus, it has a list of frequently asked questions, like if it’s good for children to go with you to visit the sick, or if you should offer to play a musical instrument, and what to do if other family members are in the room with you as you visit the one who is sick.
Will You Visit the Sick?
So there you go, three reasons I highly recommend this book to you: it’s about ministering God’s grace in times of illness, it’s short and so very practical, and it has even more resources in the back to support you.
While it is written for pastors, it is great for anyone who needs to visit a sick relative or church member, as well as for those who lead Care Teams at their church or serve as a ministry leader in some way.
The question is, will you step out of your comfort zone to visit someone who is sick? Will you block some time off your schedule to stop by their home or hospital room? Will you take a moment to let them know you’re thinking about them and praying for them?
Again, Jesus told us to care for those who were sick. And there is no doubt that He had such compassion for those who weren’t feeling well. He constantly reached out to them and spoke to them and touched them and cared for them. And so did His disciples.
And so must we, if we claim to follow Christ.
If you’re finding yourself a little hesitant to take a step in this direction, I encourage you to pause and ask yourself why. Are you scared or nervous to be around sick people? Do you feel like you’re going to interrupt them? Do you not know what to talk about or do when you’re in the room with them? Maybe you’re more on the introverted side, like me, and you’re not sure you can carry on a conversation with someone.
Talk to God about it and see what His invitation might be for you in that.
And if you’d like more help, I’d love for you to grab my Courageous Care Masterclass. It’s a 4-session class that walks you through the five most common obstacles we have to reaching out to someone who is hurting and then helps you identify how God has designed you—you, my friend—to care for those around you. You can learn more at lovedoesthat.org/care.
And that is all for today, my friend. Until next time, let’s encourage one another.
- Courageous Care Masterclass: http://lovedoesthat.org/care
- Book: Visit the Sick, by Brian Croft
Learn more and register for Journal Gently, an 8-week program designed to help you use writing as a way to process hurt, grief, and trauma with God.