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You Are Seriously Ill…

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You Are Seriously Ill…

7 minuten leestijd

As soon as you read the title of this article, you will know immediately what the contents of it will be. There are so many of us, who at certain times receive the message that we are seriously sick. Seriously ill! What are we to understand by a serious illness?

Usually we think about the fearful sickness of cancer. Cancer in its various forms of malignancy always causes much fear and anxiety. However, there are many other sicknesses besides cancer which can be very serious. This article is not supposed to cover sickness itself or the different forms of it. But we want to say something about the consequences that a message of a serious sickness can have for us.

The Result of an Examination

Often, after many tiresome and sometimes painful examinations, a patient has to consult his physician for the results. Then the message can be: “You are very seriously ill!” This can possibly mean that the physician cannot, or it may be that he dares not, give any hope of recovery. Then the patient must go home to share this sad news with his/her relatives. Or it may be that we live alone, or perhaps have no living family, and in our loneliness have no one with whom to share our sorrow.

How to Accept It

“What will happen to me now?” the patient wonders. “Will the medicine help? Will the Lord bless it? Will I suffer much pain?” Many, many questions arise. It is very important that the patient is able to express his worries to someone. This can be very difficult. Unfortunately, there are not very many people who understand the art of listening—persons whom we can trust completely and who are able to place themselves in the sad situation of their fellowman. On the other hand, a person is not always able to confide in someone else to tell him or her what is going on inwardly. Or else a patient may need time to realize the seriousness of his sickness. We have to allow him some time for that; it is significant if he has learned to accept his sickness.

Guidance of Office-Bearers

What is the task of the church, the congregation, the office-bearers, and the pastor concerning a seriously ill person? It is, first of all, very important to be empathetic towards the patient. To be able to do this, the office-bearer or another needs to know all of the patient’s concerns; otherwise it is impossible for him to show real empathy. It is not improper but Biblical for the patient to ask for empathy (see James 5:14), “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him.” When an office-bearer hears of a serious illness of a church member, he must not delay visiting him. Quite often, a patient can express himself more easily right after he has received the sad message from his physician. He needs a sounding-board for his many questions and worries, and it is fit for him to consult an office-bearer for that purpose.

Do Not Pass by the Cause of Sickness

Unfortunately, we often think about death only when we become sick. Sickness is a serious calling from God, but let us not forget the origin of it. We read in God’s Word, “For the wages of sin is death!” (Rom. 6:23). The Bible indicates that sickness is one of the many consequences of sin. Sin is a continual process of separation. The first separation exists between God, our Creator, and our soul, because of our sin. This is spiritual death, whereupon temporal death—the separation between soul and body—follows. Then if we die unconverted, eternal death becomes reality.

So sickness is one of the many consequences of sin. Sickness is a clear disturbance of the order of creation. In our state in innocency, there was no pain, sorrow, or grief. There was only a holy, perfect relationship between God and His creatures. But that holy harmony has been broken because of our sins. Our entire life has been disrupted, broken through sin. Sickness and death are not only the consequences, but also the punishment of sin.

God has said: “For in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” We have eaten — so now we must die! That this, our sentence, is not yet executed, is only because of God’s patience and long-suffering. As long as we are alive, God gives us a precious time of grace. This time can end abruptly when death takes place, usually preceded by sickness. So, an illness can be an urgent calling of God, a warning to repent. But do not forget that we must not delay our repentance until we eventually become sick! Who knows if we will have a sickbed? Even so, we may have so much pain that we are incapable of thinking about our eternal interests. Also we have to be very careful with a so-called death-bed conversion. God can convert someone on his sick-bed or death-bed, but again, I say, be careful with this. It is even possible that because of the effect of some medication, an ill person may say something that sounds encouraging, but… if it is only a result of the medicine that has led him into an unrealistic statement, we must be wary.

We Have to Deal Honestly with Each Other

We always have to deal honestly with each other, but very particularly so in our pastoral work as an officebearer. This is the command in God’s Word! The Lord says in 1 Cor. 14:30: “Let all things be done decently and in order.” The blessing of the Lord can only rest upon honest dealings with one another. Never may we give another rest without, or outside of, the true rest. This true rest is only available in the blood-righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only His blood cleanses from all sin. This is why it is so important to listen when we visit a seriously ill person, in case he has something to say concerning what is going on in his heart. We have to tell him the way of salvation which is only in Christ. Naturally, that way is hidden for us, neither do we desire it, for there is none that seeketh after God. The need for God, the longing after God, is only a fruit of the administration of the Holy Spirit. He works a hunger and thirst after a holy, and as yet unknown, God. What a blessing when we may find that hunger and thirst in a sick person! This will give some hope by God’s grace.

God’s grace is what we must present to the sick one, with a prayer to God that He will apply it. If the sick person has experienced some of it in times past, we may pray that God will renew it, or confirm it. If this may happen, the Lord will make all his bed in his sickness (Ps. 41). Yes, we have met them, guided them — those who realize that everything that God does is good. To hear this will not be merely a nice story, but pure reality. Such sickbeds are a testimony of God’s work in the heart of a sinner, in this case in a sick man.

However, there are also many other sick-beds of seriously ill persons who have no hope, no future. How moving, stirring and touching! These are difficult visits. Still we must be very faithful to visit them, with the prayer from Psalm 41 that the Lord will sustain them.

I hope wholeheartedly that we, young and old, may be prepared when the day of our death will be here. Our life is as an handbreadth, and every breath we take can be our last one!

Rev. A. Bac is pastor of the Netherlands Reformed Congregation (Gereformeerde Gemeente) of Bodegraven, The Netherlands. Translated from “Daniel.”

God’s grace is what we must present to the sick one, with a prayer to God that He will apply it.

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Bekijk de hele uitgave van dinsdag 1 september 1987

The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's

You Are Seriously Ill…

Bekijk de hele uitgave van dinsdag 1 september 1987

The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's

PDF Bekijken