How can I prepare my heart to visit someone in the hospital?

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.

Posted in Hospital Visitation
8 comments on “How can I prepare my heart to visit someone in the hospital?
  1. Rob says:

    Thanks for recognizing Curtis. He lead my father and myself to the Lord. My father in ’72, and myself in ’81.

  2. Kristin Jamieson says:

    Hi Brian,

    You’ve met my husband, Bobby, and we’re good friends of Scott and Rachel’s. I came upon this post from a link on challies.com

    I love all the helpful wisdom in these hospital visiting posts. We had some gravely serious complications with our daughter and myself following her birth in January. I had never visited anyone in the hospital before (besides new babies), and had never been in the hospital myself (and ended up being there for two difficult weeks). This counsel is so wise and true, and an encouragement to me to remember and visit folks from our church when they are sick.

    Thanks!
    In Christ,
    Kristin
    CHBC

    • Brian Croft says:

      Kristin,

      Great to hear from you. I love and appreciate your husband. Thanks for your encouraging note, as I am aware of your difficult time in the hospital as Bobby shared it with me last month. Grateful for the Lord’s grace to you in seeing you through that. Thanks for writing!

  3. Paul C says:

    Wow – this is a great post. Especially the insight on duty/obligation vs love/sincere concern. This was very, very helpful for me. Thank you, another helpful post.

  4. Zac says:

    Thank you for this post. I am at my first pastorate in a little rural town in Texas and hospital visitation is one of the areas I have had to really work on and pray about. Your posts on visitation have been really encouraging and insightful.

  5. Mary Ann says:

    Curtis Thomas is a member of our church; he and his wife, Betty, are the real deal and are greatly loved by our people.

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