Faith Matters - Current Posts

Friday, July 20, 2007

When a Loved One is Suffering

Sooner or later most of us find ourselves in the situation where a friend or loved one is suffering from a serious illness. The Bible tells us to “bear one another’s burdens,” but what’s the best way to graciously do that when we are healthy and the one we love and care about is suffering?
Through the years I’ve observed many examples of Christians ministering to one another through illness. Let me offer some practical suggestions:
• See the person, not the sickness. Whether someone is suffering from mental illness, physical disability or disease, always treat that sufferer with respect as a person.
• Realize that looking okay on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean the person is okay on the inside.
• Remember that chronic pain varies; there are good days and bad days.
• Understand that depression is a frequent side effect of physical suffering.
• Beware of playing doctor. Resist the temptation to diagnose, suggest other doctors or offer some alternative medicine.
• Beware of playing God. Give a verse from the Bible, but don't speak for God as if you know some supernatural secret.
• Tell the person you will pray and then remember to do it. Pray daily with zeal and persistence.
• Be available to offer emotional support. You don’t have to have a cure, that’s up to God. Just be a friend by being there.
As Christians, we don’t have the power to take away the pain of others, but we have the opportunity to bear their burdens.

Related Scripture: Galatians 6:2

© 2007 Leith Anderson

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Whatever Happens...

Anyone suffering from a serious illness eventually comes face to face with the sobering question, “Am I going to live or die?” We prefer our lives to be pain free. No one likes suffering. For the Christian, the pain is the same but the perspective is different. We know that every day we have is a gift from God. When our days are good we should live them for God and when our days are painful we should live them for God.
St. Paul wrote these challenging words: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.… For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.” In other words, our purpose in life is to make God look good regardless of what happens to us. We are to live out our Christian faith in the best of days and the worst of days, in pleasure and pain, in safety and danger, in grief and joy.
Just saying these words scares me! To this point, I have not experienced cancer, clinical depression or a devastating car crash. Would I be able to “conduct myself worthy of the gospel” or to “suffer for him” if these things were to happen? But that line of reasoning leads me back to the core of Christianity. We live by faith. We’re convinced that our God is a God of grace. He will give strength, courage and hope when the suffering comes. He will not leave us to deal with it alone. He will always be there for us.

See what the Bible says about this in Philippians 1:27,29.

© 2007 Leith Anderson