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Loving & Serving the Chronically Ill

Posted by Dave Marriott on

A Christian who has battled a painful chronic illness for many years has compiled the following list to help our church know how to best care for members of our spiritual family that are hurting in similar ways. I think the honesty in this list will be helpful for many that are desirous to help others, but not sure how to do so.

  1. Please don’t try to tell us about our disease or recommend some rare treatment that helped someone somewhere. Instead, it’s enough simply to be informed about the illness so that you can better understand what we are going through.
  2. Please don’t tell us, “You look great,” especially if the disease is ongoing or has no cure (We know how to fake it when we need to or just how much more makeup to put on).
  3. Please do tell us that you are praying for us, as this is the most important act of love.
  4. Please do text us and call us! Encouraging communication is always welcome — especially Scripture, encouraging quotes, and even humor! As you love us in this way, please respect the timing of communication — not before 9:00am or after 9:00 pm. Many people with chronic illnesses do not sleep well at night.
  5. Please don’t ask what you can do to help us. Instead, show initiative. Ask if you can stop by to pray together at our home. So we don’t feel overwhelmed at the thought of getting ready and driving somewhere, call and say something like, “I’m running to the grocery store. Is there anything I can pick up for you?” Offer to take our kids for an afternoon, to make a freezer meal for those days when we are unable to cook, or to clean our house for us, etc.
  6. Please don’t tell us, “You are so strong.” We rely on God every day to give us the strength we need.
  7. Sometimes, please just cry with us!
  8. Please don’t pry for medical information that we don’t desire to share; respecting our privacy will help us trust you.
  9. Please understand that there are times that we will need to cancel our engagements, as we are simply having a bad day. Please don’t give up on us. When setting a “date” on the calendar please do say, “Don’t worry if you have to cancel; I understand you’re going through a lot and may not feel up to it.” And please don’t remind us that we missed church again — if you only knew how much we wanted to be there!
  10. Please don’t continually ask us how we are doing. Instead, please do tell us how the Lord is working in your life or what has been going on with you and your family. Please do ask us what God is teaching us through our illness or “medical mission” opportunities (i.e. witnessing to nursers, doctors, etc).
  11. Please do encourage and pray for those closest to us, since they know most intimately what we are dealing with and feel absolutely helpless.
  12. If you are sick or getting sick, please do stay completely away from us! Most people with a chronic illness or cancer have compromised immune systems. What is a simple cold to you, may put us in the hospital or keep us down for weeks.
  13. Please don’t say, “I know what you are going through,” but rather say, “I can’t imagine what you are going through, but I love you and am praying for you.”
  14. Please be that one person to whom we can communicate exactly how we are feeling without being judged or reprimanded.
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