I’m home from the hospital now, off of bed-rest, and gradually getting back to work. Praise the Lord!
Following up from my last blog entry, I was in the hospital for 8 days, having experienced what the Doctors are calling a Spontaneous Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak. Essentially, for some unknown reason, I developed a lead in the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord, resulting in excruciating headaches whenever I was in an upright position. The fix for the leak was a Blood Patch, which is a lot like putting goop in your tires to fix a leak. It has been over a week now since I’ve had a headache, and I’m slowly returning to a semblance of normalcy.
In the moments of clarity while resting in the hospital (when the narcotics had worn off), I had some insights from the hospital bed I thought worth sharing regarding hospital visits.
1. I cannot overstate the Importance of a Hospital Visit.
If you’ve ever been in the hospital for any amount of time, you know how wonderful it is to have someone stop in for a visit. Seeing a familiar face at the door, a friend stopping by to brighten the day, a brother visiting with a word of encouragement – that visit is crucial. I’ve made it a habit to visit my church members when I know they’re in the hospital, now I understand just how important that visit really is. You don’t have to stay long, there’s no need to linger. Just a quick visit can make the world of difference.
Elders and Deacons have a special duty to visit those in need, to pray for healing and encouragement, but this does not absolve all Christians from their responsibility for demonstrate compassion and care to those in need. You don’t have to be ordained or commissioned by the church to be an ambassador of the hope we share in Jesus Christ. If you know of someone in the hospital, or someone who is home and alone, and you are able, call upon them and bring the joy and peace of the fellowship of the body of Christ.
2. Don’t worry about what you will say…
Jesus told his disciples not to worry about what they will say when they are under trial by the authorities, for the Spirit will give them the words to speak. I think this also applies to our visits in the hospital. Don’t worry about what you will say or do, God will give you the words. You don’t have to have a speech prepared. You especially don’t have to have any answers about what’s happening or why. Come with words of care, and with a word of promise.
One of the best visits I had was with a friend who came to sit beside my hospital bed and just read scripture. Because of the nature of my headaches, reading was rather painful, so I was unable to even take up Scripture to read for myself. So my friend sat by the bed and read the Bible, a verse here or there, a whole chapter from the Psalm and Romans. There was no sermon, no instruction, but there was tremendous blessing in hearing the Word of God.
Before you visit, bookmark a few psalms, or some of your favorite passages, and pick a few to read and share. You may never know how God may work through His Word, but you know that His word is full of promise and hope.
James tells us that the “prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). This doesn’t mean that you need to come with a rehearsed or well-polished prayer, or that your prayer will always be followed by a great working of power. But when you offer a prayer from the heart, a prayer that comes from a praying heart, great things are already at work. You are entreating before God on behalf of someone else. You are sharing your faith in God’s strong and sovereign care. You are trusting God for provision, for health, for hope, for peace. These are mighty things, and can do more than you will ever know.
Visit, share the word of God, and pray. One of the greatest acts of compassion is just that simple. I cannot begin to express what it meant to have friends come by to visit and to pray with and for me while I was in the hospital, and I cannot thank you enough. Let us endeavor to show one another our care and concern through these simple acts, that we might encourage one another in times of need.