What do I say when I visit a suffering Christian?

Whether in the hospital or in someone’s home, it can be a frightening experience knowing what to say to a suffering saint.  A simple approach is not to think you have all the answers, but to trust in God’s Word to be that which will provide their hope and confidence that your mere presence will bring encouragement.

It is God’s promises through his Word that expose all other false hopes.  However, it is not just the promises of God alone that give us hope but also that we know and trust the God who gave these promises.  Before affirming the promises, point the afflicted to the God of these promises.  Use Scripture to bring to life that the Lord is “righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds’” (Ps. 145:17).  Remind them that God is sovereign over all things, including their affliction.  Encourage them to know that God is omniscient (knows all things), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (everywhere), faithful, loving, and perfectly just even as they suffer. 

 Once you have lifted up the faithful, unchanging character of God, read to them the promises of God to his chosen people in Christ.  Read to them that nothing can separate them from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:39).  Remind them that God is their refuge and strength in distress (Ps. 59:16).  Encourage them that their soul’s hope is in God alone (Ps. 42:11).  It is essential that when we leave, we can have peace that we left more of God’s character and promises on their mind and heart than our own wisdom and thoughts. 

 

Posted in Discipleship
4 comments on “What do I say when I visit a suffering Christian?
  1. Paul C says:

    Good post. How do you deal with Christians that are suffering with depression (either clinical or demonic, in a particular case I know of it is uncertain)?

    • Brian Croft says:

      Thanks for the question. A more difficult issue that will be hard to address here. I will say many of the same principles of proclaiming God’s character and promises to those struggling is a good place to start. I have learned depression often does what physical suffering does–the pain makes us doubt those promises of God in Christ. Here are some helpful resources to look into:

      Spiritual Depression – Lloyd Jones
      John Piper’s little book on depression
      Depression: A Stubborn Darkness – Ed Welch

  2. Carl Erlandson says:

    I find myself in the midst of sharing my own “wisdom” on a matter of what might be grief and sadness, when I’m awestruck by the realization that I’ve not mentioned God’s Word and His truths on the subject – A great reason to have many verses memorized! By the way, this valuable truth you present here in your blog is identical in many ways to how conflicts are to be resolved – by relying on the power of God’s word to ‘teach, reprove, correct and train, that we may be competent and equipped for every good work’.

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