During my early years of ministry, I was not big on visiting the sick. I would do it, but I didn’t really see the good behind it.
But on June 9, 2007 our daughter was born just after midnight. And through her birth, I gained a new perspective on why it is important to visit those who are sick.
Like all first-time parents, we had the “ideal picture” in our mind of how her birth and the celebration to follow would take place: happiness, celebration and tears.
We shed tears alright, but not tears of joy. As soon as our daughter arrived into this world, the nurses took her to a table in the room where she was born and immediately began to try to suction fluid from her lungs. Next, they took her out of the room (without us even being able to hold her for the first time) to the NICU.
“She has fluid in her lungs. We aren’t sure how this will go. Most times it goes well, and the children recover. But sometimes it doesn’t go so well,” they told us.
So, there we sat with our ideal birth and celebration idea shattered.
After the doctor and nurses finished tending to my wife, they wheeled her to a hospital room. We were worried about our daughter. We cried a little, prayed a lot and sat in silence from time to time.
The kicker is that we weren’t alone! We were surrounded by family members and some good friends.
The next day, other friends and family members came by the hospital. We had people offer prayers as they held our hands. We had friends cry with us. Some people came by and didn’t say anything, they just listened or offered hugs. And through this process something clicked in me I finally “got” what I had never been able to understand before. I saw the importance of visiting the sick.
Several days later, we brought our healthy baby girl home and she has never had any complications from her unfortunate birth experience. God answered prayers. He allowed for her to be healed. But beyond that, God’s people brought comfort to us in a way that I will never forget. Sometimes, WE are the answers to people’s prayers. Visits like the ones received by a family whose little girl had a rough first few days on earth lift spirits and bring hope and comfort. I saw firsthand why we should be like Christ and visit those who are sick. It is through those visits and through the hands that touch us that the comfort of God is extended to those who are ill.
“But, what I am supposed to say? What am I supposed to do?”
Just show up. Hold a hand, say a prayer, give a hug or do like Jesus did in John 11 and shed a few tears with your friends.
Matthew 25.36, “…I was sick and you visited me…”
Joey Haynes is a follower of Jesus, married way out of his league, has two of the coolest children in the universe and is blessed to work with an amazing community of believers known as The Church at Rome.