What do I say to a Christian who is dying in the hospital?

If there is ever a moment when words fail, it is standing over a person who is dying.  You know it.  They know it.  It is just a matter of time.  What do you do?  What do you say?  Here’s a suggestion or two:

First, don’t say anything.  Don’t talk the moment away.  First, just sit with them.  Hold their hand.  Tell them you love them.  Tell them you will be there with them through this time.  Sometimes it is best to do nothing but “weep with those who weep.”

Affirm the attributes and promises of God.  Once you speak, tell of the glorious character of God and His promises in Christ.  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. 59:6).  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.

Savor these precious moments with the saints of God.  Some of my most cherished moments as a pastor are holding the hand of a dying saint and reading God’s Word to them as they breathe their last and meet their Redeemer face to face.  Don’t avoid these opportunities because they may be hard.  Instead, run to them.

Posted in Hospital Visitation, Oversight of Souls
3 comments on “What do I say to a Christian who is dying in the hospital?
  1. colin says:

    Brian,
    How much time do you spend talking with a person on their deathbed about the New Heavens/New Earth, the resurrection body, and the end of pain, suffering, evil, and sickness? I always presumed this would be one of the most important things to stress to give hope and encouragement to a person facing death, though I havent been in the situation yet. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks,
    Colin

  2. I think the best moments I was able to spend with my dieing father (who is a Christian) was in giving thanks to him for being faithful to God. I believe he appreciated the fact that he left a Godly legacy. Secondly, the fact that true life is unity with God and true death is separation from God has great impact at the point of physical collapse. Nothing we say can make them feel any better about unfinished business here on earth, but we can shift the focus to what they have to look forward to. The greatest pains are the losses of loved ones who don’t know Him.

    Hey, Nice blog btw. 🙂

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "What do I say to a Christian who is dying in the hospital?"
  1. […] Shepherding has a brief but helpful post about death, dying, and Christian hope. Read his insights: What Do I Say to a Christian Who Is Dying? For a more detailed approached to death and dying, grief and growth, read God’s Healing for […]

  2. […] What do I say to a Christian who is dying in the hospital? « Practical Shepherding <span class="“> – Annotated […]

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