Do not underestimate the intuition of the sick. We will often reveal by our manner whether we are going out of duty or love. This is the first heart issue we must honestly assess. It is an easy trap to fall into, especially for pastors. We begin to think that visiting is part of the job for which the church has hired us. Pastors must make a special effort to make sure they are visiting the sick out of love and care, not obligation. Curtis Thomas, a seasoned American pastor of over forty years writes:
“Our visits should never appear only as professional duties. If the patient perceives that we are there only to carry out our responsibility, rather than having a genuine concern for him or her, our visit can do more harm than good.”
We must also prepare our hearts for what we might see and experience. Remember that we may be visiting someone who is close to dying and there are disturbing realities that accompany death. We may see blood or tubes and needles placed into unthinkable places. Deep pain, gasping of breath, and many other mannerisms can make even the toughest person squeamish. However, these circumstances are not reasons to avoid going and caring for that person. In fact, these scenarios are wonderful moments that God gives to force us to prepare our hearts by relying completely on the Holy Spirit for strength.
We must prepare our hearts not just to avoid passing out when faced with these difficulties; we must spiritually prepare our hearts as well. Before we are face to face with the person we are visiting, we must have in mind the Scriptures we want to read. Think through what words of encouragement and hope you intend to bring. Whatever promises of God we choose to share, we should remind ourselves of them, believe them, and allow them to fill our hearts with joy. That same intuition of the sick will then affirm they are receiving those words of truth from someone whose hope is also found in them.