August 25, 2009

Loneliness In Illness

Written by Boyd Bailey

Loneliness In Illness… “As long as he has an infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the camp.” Leviticus 13:46

Leprosy was a dreaded disease much like Aids is today. People were sent out of town into isolated colonies where they felt rejected and feared. This is the nature of illness, especially severe sickness. Those of us, who are well, either don’t totally understand the condition of the sick, or we don’t know what to say. However, we can still show up to love on them and serve them during their time of struggle.

We don’t want to feed the unhealthy person’s feelings of rejection and fear. Illness can be dreadfully lonely. The emotional struggle many times is harder than the physical pain. This is why we need each other, ‘in sickness and in health.’ So what are some ways to reach out to someone who is physically and emotional hurting? How can we be intentional in our concern for them?

A first step is to put ourselves into their situation. If I were suffering from cancer how would I want to be treated? Prayer and care would be high on the list. To be prayed for is the highest of privileges. Your prayers do make a difference; it is like adding additional supplies to hungry and fatigued troops on the front lines of battle.

God listens intently to your pleas for compassion and healing. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16b). Prayer makes a difference with God, the one you are praying for and it makes a difference in you. Your prayers sensitize your heart toward the one you are lifting to God’s throne of grace.

Care means you show up. This is 99% of caring. You show up at the bedside, you show up at their home and you show up at the funeral. When you take the time to show up, you provide a dose of medicine that can’t be prescribed by a physician. Your smile, warm touch and listening ear refresh like a hot shower in the cold of winter. It may be a card, flowers or a phone call, all of these add up to put the sick person on the road to recovery or give them a much needed peace of mind.

Yes, there are the ‘hard’ elements of doctors, nurses, medicine and therapy, but the ‘soft’ elements of prayer and care provide a safe environment for the other to be more effective. Jesus illustrated the importance of loving on the ill when He said about Himself, “I was sick and you looked after me” (Matthew 25:36b). Who is struggling with sickness that I can love on today? Who needs me to read Scripture to and lift to the Lord in prayer?

Related Readings: Exodus 23:25; Psalm 41:3; John 4:45-47; Acts 28:8-9

Transformational Living
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