What I’m saying to an ill friend.

A friend made a challenging request: “We’re working on a booklet to encourage a loved one. I wondered if you had some specific Scripture references related to being in the hospital and recovery.”

IMG_0056It’s challenging because I’m a contextual comforter. I listen for the specific situation and need for encouragement and then offer words from God that seem to fit. But because I know enough about the situation, I’ll offer these.

Psalm 4 is often a night-time prayer that cries out for relief from God and rests in God. It’s honest and hopeful.

Psalm 6 doesn’t feel very comforting at first. But in long hospitalizations, there can be a sense that people are ganging up on us. And this psalm turns to God for help with those feelings.

Psalm 8 turns from our situation to God’s power. We can benefit from remembering the details of the outside world, especially when it’s hard to see them.

Psalm 13 is another “how long” song that ends with “But I trust.” It’s okay to ask how long, to be honest with God about the uncertainty of this moment. And the refrain of trust can be whispered tentatively on the way to giving courage to our hearts.

Psalm 42 starts with a familiar (to some) simile: “As the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for you.” But then it explores the emotional aloneness, the bone-aching pain, and the soul wrestling that can happen in many settings, including with chronic pain. I mention it because we often find hope in knowing that we are not the first or only one to walk through the feelings and to find courage. And sometimes, we simply need the vocabulary to express the struggle.

Psalm 130 is one of the songs of ascent, many of which are helpful for reading in any faith journey. But this one in particular, with waiting in the middle of it, helps.

But here’s what I know. I work with my own biases. What have you found helpful, those of you who have faced long hospitalizations and recovery? What or who from Scripture has given you courage?

Your comments will be passed on.

 

 

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

2 thoughts on “What I’m saying to an ill friend.

  1. Isaiah 40:31 has been a comfort to me when I am in a weak situation. I went to this verse when my son was 4 and battled cancer. Then again as I heal from a neck fracture. God’s strength works from the inside out.

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  2. I spent 10 days in hospital in 2000 Jon where I had a left hemicolectomy. The most meaningful thing that happened was the care offered by a large unqualified nursing auxiliary who swore and scratched her backside with a pencil that she kept behind her ear. Seeing me in distress one morning (two or three days after surgery and still unable to move much) she asked what was wrong. For some reason my now greasy hair bothered me more than the pain. Somehow she washed my hair while I was in my bed – and in doing so made me feel human again. That human interaction and care from the most unlikely of sources meant more to me than anything else during my time in hospital.

    I guess what I am saying is that no Scripture would have made a difference at that time. What made a difference was another human being taking an interest and forgetting about her duties, and sacrificing a little of her time to make me feel human again.

    David

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