Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Seven tips to visiting the sick

Lately I've been visiting someone in hospital.
And I learned many things.
One of which is what to do and what not to do when visiting the sick.

1. Do visit them.
It's a great ministry.
Both to the visited and the visitor.
For me, it keeps me humble.

2. But don't rush in and out.
When we rush, people won't feel the ministry, no matter what we bring them or what we say.
I still remember a superior who came for my dad's wake seven years ago.
He looked and sounded appropriately sorry for me, but stole glances at his watch like 20 times throughout the ten long minutes he stayed.
He needn't have come, I remember thinking.

3. Be cheerful.
Don't giggle and tell jokes but don't pull a long face either.
The gal I'm visiting is all of 16 years old.
It's already very sad for her to be lying down all day for the past three weeks, and be subject to all sorts of tests every day.
She doesn't need to comfort her visitors by being extra cheerful.

4. Bring something to brighten up the day.
Flowers, huge cards, soft toys, anything.
This gal's aunt brought all her barbie dolls and decorated the room with them.
Even the visitors sqealed with delight.

5. If the patient is up to it, do something with him or her together.
I brought my MP3 player and we worshipped the Lord together to 'Heart of Worship'.
It was a quiet, joyful time together.

6. Don't talk about yourself for more than five minutes.
One visitor went straight into her own journey of sicknesses and healing the moment she arrived.
She meant well but the teenager switched off.
Clearly she had heard one 'comforting' story too many.

7. Make yourself useful.
Sometimes it means running errands for the family.
I brought my daughter to make cards with the teenager while I took her mum, who's the patient's constant caregiver, for a drive out and fresh air.

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About Me

In the Old Testament in the Bible, there was a man named Jacob who "wrestled with God and man." He wouldn't let God go until God answered his prayers. God admired that and renamed him Israel, "the one who fought or wrestled and prevailed". He fought with man--his inner man--and conquered his own weaknesses. He's my hero. He is what I hope God and man see me to be.