Advice for Visiting the Sick and Afflicted
The months of November and December are called “the season of giving back;” however, the giving does not have to stop there. Something that can be done year round is give aid to the sick and afflicted. In order to help another person, it's helpful to understand the meaning of this.
Giving aid to someone is defined as "helping a person out of a risk or danger, to meet a pressing need or solve an important and urgent problem." This definition indicates that giving aid is not exclusively for people who are physically sick; it says “out of a risk,” which could be at any time or in any situation that may represent physical or spiritual danger.
Based on this and the knowledge that the word of God gives, I find two types of illnesses or distresses, physical and spiritual. Both are equally necessary and important to address. Here are a few examples:
- People physically ill in a hospital or care facility
- People who have recently lost a family member
- People who do not regularly attend church
- Brothers/Sisters who suddenly stop coming to church
The purpose of aid is to give relief, which means making a tedious or annoying moment pleasant or funny. An easy and very common way to help is through a "visit," by personally going to see and help the person in need.
Why do it?
- It's an ancient and common practice (2 Kings 8:29; 2 Kings 13:14; Job 2:11)
- It shows love and charity (Psalm 35:13-14)
- It's our Christian duty (Hebrews 13:1-3; 16)
- It's humbling (Mormon 8:36-39; Ezekiel 34:1-4)
Who should do it?
Even though in Luke 9:1-2, God is giving a mandate to His apostles, certain work is available for all disciples of Christ, so everyone who considers themselves a servant of God can visit the afflicted.
What to do on a visit?
- Call first.
- Inform yourself about the person's affliction.
- Prepare yourself mentally for what you might see and hear.
- Choose a good topic of conversation that interests the person.
- Keep any disclosed information confidential.
- Bring something thoughtful (flowers, book, game).
- Help in any way you can (fluff a pillow, get water).
- Maintain soft (genuine, two-way) eye contact.
- Sit close.
- Let the person cry.
- Offer to look after the person's house, pets, etc.
- End the visit well without making an excuse to leave.
- Support the person's primary caregiver.
What not to do on a visit?
- Talk about your own illnesses or problems.
- Bring food if you're not sure the person can eat it.
- Show distaste for the hospital, facility, machines, tubes, etc.
- Reproach or criticize the person's state, as this can just depress the person further — remember the friends of Job?
- Repeatedly look at the clock or your phone.
- Promise more than you can deliver.
What do you get from visiting?
- Spiritual and material prosperity (Jacob 2:17-19)
- Entrance into the kingdom of God (Matthew 25:34-40)
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.