The power and gift of your presence!

The hospital can be a cold and formidable place for anyone to visit – let alone be a patient.  There is a sterile feel to it with the punctuated sound of announcements over a hidden PA system.  When in a ward of any kind, add to this alien atmosphere the rhythmic sounds of beeps and chirps – some more insistent and alarming than others – but none of which one can immediately identify.

It is into this unfamiliar landscape we will at one point or another be summoned to because of someone we care for and love is there.  A couple of tips will help the uninitiated be more at ease with such a visit.

1.  Realise that the person you’re visiting isn’t there to entertain you.  They are not there to receive you as a guest to a cocktail and dinner party.  This will help you relax and feel at ease making your visit brief.

2.  The person your visiting is tired, it may seem odd since they’re laying in bed all day – but they are tired.  So, stimulating conversation about the geopolitical situation in Ghana need not be on the agenda.  You don’t need to read the latest edition of Time or National Geographic to prep for your visit.  Make your visit brief and light on the conversation.  You may, for lack of conversation, be prepared to read a passage of Scripture to the patient – I would recommend a couple that are encouraging (Psalm 34; Psalm 46; Matthew 11: 28-30; and Romans 8: 38-39).

3.  The person your visiting is in the hospital, they’re there because something needed to be fixed.  It’s the funniest thing… when you enter the room, you’ll be compelled to ask, “How are you?”  Don’t feel foolish if the urge to ask that grips you or it even slips out.  I once visited a man on a ventilator at the UW Med Center, I was a rookie – a green horn pastor making one of my first solo visits to a person in the hospital.  I actually asked the poor man, “So, how are you?”  I almost clasped my hand over my mouth after I said the words.  He just gave me a look from below all the tubes that said it all.  Prepare to let them know that you care and ask if you can bring them anything (magazine, word find or puzzle book) and offer a short prayer for them.  After that, having kept the visit brief, excuse yourself and make your exit.

4.  When visiting someone in the hospital, remember – they may not remember exactly what you said or were wearing – but they will remember you were there and perhaps even prayed for them (short prayer that focuses on the goodness of God and His faithfulness and for the patient’s well being).  That means the world to people and brings into their lives a taste of what redemption, love and meaningful relationship are all about. 

When you feel the urge to avoid visiting someone in the hospital – that is when you should go the most.  Remember, keep it brief, to the point and above all – cheerful.  I was laid up in the hospital after back surgery myself and found the warm smiles, gentle touches of my hand, prayer and hugs my wife received the most memorable – even with the evaporating fog of anesthesia.

So go for it and practice the power of presence – in the hospital!


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