The Sick Need Us
I have been sick for over a week and really sick the last few days. As I lay on the couch and wallowed in my misery, I was so grateful that I had Wayne and Kal around. Wayne cooked and Kal would bring me water or Kleenexes or the TV remote so I wouldn’t have to get up. Kal walked to the pharmacy to get my prescription. And they just provided me with company and distraction from my pain.
This gave me great sympathy for the people who live alone and have to deal with their illnesses alone. Who cooks for them or brings them medicine or just gives them a little human interaction when they are too sick to even get out of the house? Living alone can be lonely enough, but being alone when you are sick is the most desolate feeling.
Going to visit the sick used to be common. For those of you who are younger, you may not have actually seen this. Women, especially, took this on as “righteous act” or an imitation of Christ in past decades. Before she was employed full-time, my mother-in-law went every week to visit some sick person, and she still did it often after she started working. I was so grateful to Helen Summers one day 22 years ago. We had just moved into this house, it was unfinished, we were not unpacked, and all four of us got very sick – can’t get out of the bed sick. Helen brought over a pot of simple vegetable beef soup. It was exactly what we needed and tasted wonderful. I will never forget her thoughtfulness. I don’t even know how she heard we were sick except that we went to church together.
And that is key, I think. Small towns and smallish churches know when someone is sick. But in our cities and mega-churches, that’s not often the case. Especially as it concerns our older people. Many of you reading this don’t even see any old people on a weekly basis. You’ve left your hometown, where you knew some old people, and you probably go to a church that doesn’t have old people, or not ones you know. I want to encourage you to at least cultivate your relationships with the old people in your family: grandparents, aunts and uncles, especially anyone single. Call them. I know that’s not what you do. But they like it. And this is about them, not you. If you stay in regular contact with them, you will know when they are sick. And even if you can’t bring them food, you can “visit” them over the phone. It will mean more than you will ever know.
Then one of the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we . . . . see you sick and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:39-40
Read Matthew 25:34-46 for the whole context.