Caring For Afflicted Brethren
I’m happy to say that what you are about to read does NOT apply to the majority of my church. Not only through my own afflictions but also the afflictions of others, it’s often too easy to forget about the sick and wounded amongst us. I’ve seen it where Christian brothers and sisters end up being ignored, because people at a church lack the empathy or knowledge of how to handle them. Sometimes, the afflicted person seems to be a “black hole” for your prayers, never seeming to improve. What do you do in these cases? How do you treat a brother or sister in Christ who is going through a long term affliction?
Here’s some helpful advice from a great book: The Church Member’s Guide which was written in the 19th century. A quick glance through this book shows a level of Christian commitment rarely found in today churches, in a variety of areas. Here is a short section dealing with afflicted brethren:
Love requires that we should visit our brethren in their affliction: “I was sick and ye visited me, I was in prison and ye came unto me ;for as much as ye did it unto the least of these my brethren, ye did it me;” such is the language of Jesus Christ to his people, by which he teaches us how important and incumbent a duty it is for church members to visit each other in their afflictions. Probably there is no duty more neglected than this.
Christians often lie on beds of sickness for weeks and months successively, without seeing a fellow member cross the threshold of their chamber door. How often have I been shocked, when upon inquiring of the sufferer whether such and such an individual residing in their neighborhood had been to visit them, it had been said in reply,
“Oh! no, sir, I have now been stretched
on this bed for days and weeks. My pain and
weakness have been so great, that I have scarcely
been able to collect my thoughts for meditation and
prayer. The sight of a dear Christian friend would
indeed have relieved the dull monotony of this gloomy
scene, and the voice of piety would have been as
music to blunt my sense of pain, and lull my troubled
heart to short repose; but such a sight and such a
sound have been denied me. No friend has been
near me, and it has aggravated sorrows, already
heavy, to be thus neglected and forgotten by a church,
which I joined with the hope of finding amongst
them the comfort of sympathy. But alas! alas! I
find them too much occupied with the things seen
and temporal, to think of a suffering brother, to
whom wearisome nights and months of vanity are
How could I help exclaiming, “O, Christian love, bright image of the Savior’s heart! whither hast thou fled, that thou so rarely visitest the church on earth, to shed thine influence, and manifest thy beauties there?” There have been ages of Christianity–so historians inform us–in which brotherly love prevailed amongst Christians to such a degree, that, fearless of the infection diffused by the most malignant and contagious disorders, they have ventured to the bed side of their brethren expiring in the last stages of the plague, to administer the consolations of a hope full of immortality. This was love; love stronger than death, and which many waters could not quench. It was no doubt imprudent, but it was heroic, and circulated far and wide the praises of that dear name which was the secret of the wonder.
How many are there, now bearing the Christian name, who scarcely ever yet paid one visit to the bed side of a suffering brother’ Shame and disgrace upon such professors!! Let them not expect to hear the Savior say, “I was sick and ye visited me.” That this branch of Christian love may be performed with greater diligence, it would be a good plan for the pastor, at every church meeting, to mention the names of the afflicted members, and stir up the brethren to visit them. It would be particularly desirable for Christians to go to the scene of suffering on a Sabbath day, and read the Bible and sermons to the afflicted, at that time, as they are then peculiarly apt to feel their sorrows, in consequence of being cut off from the enjoyments of public worship.
Do you have any stories of how your church cared for a brother and sister in Christ who was going through a protracted illness or recovery? Along with other comments, feel free to share them below:
|Posted by: Jim B. Link: http://www.oldtruth.com/blog.cfm/id.2.pid.1005|