How can I prepare for the unexpected when visiting those in the hospital?

If you visit those in the hospital with any consistency, you will eventually face uncomfortable and unexpected situations.  How can we prepare for them?  Is there anything we can do or say in those moments? 

A young seminary student in my church decided to visit a dying member in the hospital.  He had very little experience yet heard me challenge the congregation to care for this long-time, faithful member during this sudden turn for the worse.  He walked into her hospital room to find the woman in a most disturbing state.  She was semi-conscious, gasping for every breath, and having seizures.  He also stumbled in on a very unusual occurrence—no family in the room.   He had heard me say, ‘There is always family in the room to talk to.’  This time, there was not.  What would you have done?  This faithful brother had an impacting and spiritually mature response. 

He opened his Bible and began to read.  As he stood over the bed of this dying woman gasping for breath, he read about the glorious character of God and his faithful promises to his adopted children in Christ.  She passed away soon after this faithful brother left the room.  Only God knows the fruit of that afternoon.  But we need to see how sound his instincts were in that moment.  It is God’s Word that is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12).  We must have the truth of God’s Word on our lips; otherwise, we may not respond well when faced with such an uncomfortable moment. 

How can we prepare for these types of situations?  Think through several Scriptures that might be an encouragement to them.  It is helpful to think through these in categories.  Here are four areas with examples that may be helpful in a variety of situations: 

  • Passages of comfort (Ps. 23, 28, 34, 46, 62, 145; Heb. 4:14–16)


  • Succinct gospel passages (John 11:25–26, Rom. 5:6–11, Eph. 2:1–10, 2 Cor. 5:17–21)


  • Passages dealing with the purpose of suffering for the believer (2 Cor. 12:7–9, James 1:2–4, 1 Pet. 1:6–7, 1 Pet. 4:12–19)


  • Passages related to the reality and hope of eternity with Christ (John 10:27–30, John 14:1–3, Phil. 1:21–23, 1 Pet. 1:3–5) 


Having a few passages in your mind will allow you to be better equipped for the unexpected.  Just in case you missed the obvious, bring your Bible.   


Posted in Hospital Visitation
4 comments on “How can I prepare for the unexpected when visiting those in the hospital?
  1. Pat says:

    Thanks. I was in a similar situation just last week. God provided the words and the passage to comfort a family member struck with the reality of being out of control.

  2. Great Counsel! Right on!

  3. Garrett Conner says:


    Thank you for this blog.

    I came across it through Mike McKinnley’s post.

    This kind of stuff is so helpful to areas that are so neglected.

    -Garrett C
    Capitol Hill Baptist Church

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