May 29, 2024

I was Sick, and You Cared for Me

James 5:13-16

“I was sick and you looked after me. . . .”

—  Matthew 25:36

There are so many excuses people make for paying little or no attention to those who are sick: “I don’t like visiting people in the hospital, it makes me feel uncomfortable.” “I can’t take the smell in the nursing home. There is a lady there who keeps yelling, ‘Take me home!’ and I can’t handle it.” “I don’t know what to say when I am with that person.” “Actually, isn’t that the pastor’s job? And, besides, I am too busy.” Sad to say, I have tried to make these excuses as well.

Jesus simply cuts through it all and says, “I was sick and you looked after me,” or, “I was sick and . . . you did not look after me.” While our health-care systems can help with most of a sick person’s physical needs, their spiritual and emotional needs remain. Visiting a person who is sick will often make a greater impact than we know. Family, health care workers, and staff also notice when the sick are being visited.

Yes, visiting with people who are ill can sometimes be challenging. It pushes us outside of our comfort zones. But, as with many things, it usually gets easier with practice. And we will often find that we are blessed by making a visit! And what greater blessing can there be than to hear the Lord say, “I was sick and you looked after me”!

Jesus, we are experts at making excuses. Please fill us with compassion instead of excuses, and help us to truly care for one another. We pray in your name. Amen.

About the author — George Koopmans

George Koopmans has served as an ecumenical chaplain at Medicine Hat College in Medicine Hat, Alberta, since November 2021. Prior to entering into chaplaincy, George served as a pastor to two congregations—one in Minnesota (Luverne), and the other in Medicine Hat. George and his wife, Emily, have four adult daughters and three grandchildren. Hiking, biking, and birdwatching are his favorite hobbies.

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