While in Scotland, we spent some time at Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh. Dear friends, Paul Rees and Liam Garvie, are faithful and gifted pastors at this church and were gracious hosts to us while staying in Edinburgh. One task while there, was a training I did on how to visit and care for the sick and afflicted among the congregation. Before discussing the practical tools on how to engage in this task, I laid out what are the most common reasons (excuses) God’s people do not visit and care for those suffering with physical difficulties in their church. Here are 5 of those reasons and I challenge you to examine your faithfulness to visit the sick and if deficient, which of these excuses are you most prone to use.
We neglect it as a priority. All of us are busy. Busyness can be the excuse to get out of just about anything. Make sure busyness is not the reason you are failing to care for your people. Make it a priority.
We dismiss it as our responsibility. Visiting the sick is the pastor’s responsibility; no, it’s the deacon’s responsibility; it’s both their responsibility; I have even heard pastors say it is the church member’s responsibility to care for the physically infirmed. It is the responsibility of the “body of Christ” to care for those physically suffering. Do not allow yourself to put the responsibility upon others.
We fail to see the value in it. We question the value because we do not know if it will be fruitful. Will they be there? Will they be coherent to talk? Will they be gone from the room having tests run? We question its value and that makes us neglect it. We fail to see the value, when in actuality, it may be one of the most fruitful ways to serve Christ’s church.
We forget it is biblically commanded. It is not love one another, or preach the word, but Christ and the apostles commanded that we care for one another, specifically those who are sick (Matt. 25, James 5).
We avoid it because of fear. We can fear many things when it comes to going to see someone sick, suffering, and hurting. We may fear getting sick ourselves. We may fear facing the reality of sickness and the possibility of death. We often fear not knowing what to say or do. Although all these are issues to be prepared to face, they are not reasons to neglect obedience to Christ’s command to serve Him while caring for your brothers and sisters who are sick and dying (Matt. 25).
The best way to overcome fear, is to be equipped and prepared for whatever you might face in visiting the sick in hospitals, rehab centers, nursing homes, and even their own homes. The practical tools to be equipped for this task is the purpose of this book. Examine your heart and schedule to make sure you are not hiding behind these excuses and ultimately neglecting Christ’s clear command to care for His people in these moments of greatest need.