The Christian approach to pain, suffering, and sickness is compassion, mercy, tenderness, and caring. Matthew records, When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 HCSB)
- He didn’t write off their illness as an illusion.
- He didn’t blame them for their illness.
- He didn’t discourage them or tell them to give up.
He had compassion. If you’re going to be like Jesus, you have to learn to be compassionate toward people when they’re sick.
Millions of people are suffering unnecessarily from preventable and sometimes curable diseases. Three hundred million people will contract malaria this year, but we know how to prevent it and treat it. Every day three thousand children die of a mosquito bite.
And then there are the diseases we don’t have a cure for yet, but we’re working on it. Three million people die each year from HIV/AIDS. We don’t have the cure yet, but we do know how to prevent it.
We cannot delay. We cannot procrastinate. If we’re going to be people of compassion, we can’t wait any longer.
There are seven ingredients in caring for the sick.
Before you can care, you’ve got to be aware. You have to pay attention. You have to put up your antenna. You have to start looking at people and listening to people and looking for the clues that say, “I’m in pain.”
God intentionally allows sick people in your life to give you the opportunity to learn to love. Those people are not accidentally in your life. Who’s our model for this? God. The Bible says in Psalm 106:44 God saw their misery and heard their cry.
I was sick inside with sin. I needed God, so He showed up in my life. He offered his presence. That’s exactly what God asks us to do for each other. He wants us to give our presence to each other in moments of need.
Acceptance means removing the embarrassment that someone might experience being sick. I don’t know why, but we get embarrassed about our sicknesses. We get embarrassed about our illnesses. We don’t want people to know. But it’s not a sin to be sick. It’s not a lack of faith. It’s just part of being human.
One of the illnesses that we need to de-stigmatize is HIV/AIDS. It’s considered a sexually transmitted disease, so people wind up feeling an extra sense of judgment and rejection when they suffer with it. Too many people have been fired, shunned, and banned from being part of an organization because of HIV/AIDS. But Jesus welcomed those stigmatized by illness into his life, and we should as well.
We need to give people living with sickness the gift of hope. People can handle almost anything in life if they have hope. One of the ways you can give people hope is through a word of encouragement.
Other ways might come through physical expressions of affection like a touch, a hug, or a pat on the back to show your a concern. That gives people hope.
Medicines are a gift from God. We’re to use them. Presumption is when we ignore what God has provided. Medicines are a gift from God and you should use them without shame or without hesitance.
The Good Samaritan went out of his way to help the guy who was mugged on the side of the road and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He was using the best medicines he had available at that moment. He pours some alcohol on the wounds, which disinfects them. Then he pours oil on the wounds to soothe them.
Prevention is part of caring for the sick. How do you prevent sickness? You teach health habits.
Around the world, millions of people need to learn basic health habits that all of us take for granted. Much of the world doesn’t know that you can stay a lot healthier by just washing your hands. Another thing would simply be to boil water to get the germs out of it. A small provision such as bed nets – a mosquito net placed over one’s bed so the mosquitoes can’t bite them – would save millions of people from being sick.
Prayer is asking God to heal people who are sick. All healing comes from God, no matter the method He uses. He can use doctors. He can use medicine. He can use natural techniques. He can work a miracle.
God heals people many different ways. Doctors will tell you they cannot heal. They can perform procedures, but the healing has to be God doing it in your life. God uses doctors; God uses medicine; and God uses miracles.
Here’s the question… Will you do anything about this and the sick people in your life? There are sick people around you.
The Bible calls Jesus the Great Physician. He is the cure to the ailments in your life. When it comes to guilt, worry, depression, fear, bitterness, boredom, loneliness, etc., he is the great physician who heals physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
If you would like more information on how you can care for the sick locally or globally through the HIV&AIDS Initiative, email us at HIV@saddleback.com.