Can we stop for a shared moment of brutal honesty here?
Online friends have several times mentioned feeling ignored and disconnected, even shuffled aside by their families, their friends, and especially their churches.
The reason? Chronic or severe illness, or just being a little under the weather.
They aren’t perfectly well, so… no one sees them as valuable. No one cares that they’re hurting.
It’s always someone else’s job to spend time with them or minister to their needs–unfortunately–that someone never comes!
In several worst case scenarios I’m aware of, the perfectly healthy and able people who are doing the neglecting are angry and spiteful because the person who is ill isn’t meeting THEIR needs!
I’m sure you’re quite properly shocked… I DO hope you aren’t one of those selfish people!
I know just how my friends are feeling!
Not to complain, but as a matter of honesty: I struggle with those feelings too.
I’ve been dealing with chronic illness for a while now. It’s difficult to get to church. Sitting through a service is a real test of my health and my will.
I don’t have a church family, despite attempts to reach out and find one that will take an interest in being there for me. The worse my situation becomes, the less likely I’ll be able to interest a church in connecting with me, either!
If I couldn’t figure out how to interest a church in reaching out and caring about us when I still had something to offer, when my daughter was active and involved in volunteering for the AWANA program, why would I expect any of them to care now?
(the sad and unfortunate answer is: I don’t. Not anymore. They’ve totally disillusioned me)
I barely have any friends despite efforts to reach out and make them too.
If someone suddenly took an interest in actually visiting me, I might faint from the shock! And well… yes, the frantic dashing around to tidy up a little! (but it would be oh-so-nice to know someone cared enough to drop by! I think I’d eventually revive!)
If I didn’t have my parents and daughter to socialize with, most weeks would go by without interacting face to face with anyone who genuinely cares about me!
My one local friend is pretty much in the same boat as me: struggling with health issues and family issues that are bigger than she is. As challenging as both our situations are, at least we have had each other to commiserate with, but now she’s moving away.
I wonder how she’s going to survive where she’s moving; how I’m going to survive at this end?
Our society has gotten so disconnected! Whose fault is that?
We used to know, as Christians, that we are supposed to visit the sick and minister to them. I did my own share of this when I was younger and in better health. I won’t say I was great at it, but at least I tried.
Now, it seems like no one is all that interested in trying.
We used to know that Christ commanded us to “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn”. Whatever happened to that?
Do you honestly believe, those of you who are healthy and well now, that you will stay healthy and well forever?
Do you honestly believe that you are exempt from age or infirmity, or that trouble and distress will always pass you by?
Or maybe you think that it’s someone else’s job to be kind to the sick and the suffering?
Who do you think will be there for you if you can’t be bothered to be there for anyone else now, while you’re young, and healthy, and–well–too busy and self-involved to care about anyone else’s life but your own?
Whose job is it to minister to the sick?
Whose job is it to be a friend, whether those you know are suffering or not?
Who is qualified to reach out and care, as one human for another?
Isn’t that our job as Christians, to love one another as Christ loved us? Isn’t that your job, too?
Surely you don’t think Christ loves us–loves you–because you and I are all so worthy and such great specimens of humanity!
Christ loves us past our flaws and our failures, past the sickness and suffering. He sees the real you and the real me, and He values us because He MADE us.
Real people, hurting people, broken people, SICK AND SUFFERING people: we all have tremendous value in God’s eyes!
You may not live in my city. You may not live anywhere near me, but–I’m guessing that you know somebody who you’ve been ignoring: somebody who needs your loving attention and help!
Please don’t wait any longer. Please go visit them today. (And yes, I’d welcome a visit too!)