Part VI of our series on Visiting and Remembering
As we learned in our last post, in the Work of Mercy of visitation we’re sent as God’s ambassadors. That means we need to learn how to incarnate his presence wherever the widow, the orphan, the sick, and the imprisoned dwell. Central to that Work of Mercy, says Amy L. Sherman, is imparting life:
It [visitation] mustn’t be limited to providing them merely with commodities. We are to share our own lives, and invite them to taste of Christ’s life. We are to pray for fullness in the places where they are empty. Where they experience deadness, our ministry aims to quicken. Where they experience barrenness, our ministry helps them connect to Jesus and experience fruitfulness. He is the life-giver to all who are destitute, empty, dead, and barren.
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, once wrote a script for what we should say or do when we visit the sick, but I think it also works well when we visit the prisoner, the widow, or the orphan:
As to the particular method of treating the sick, you need not tie yourself down to any, but may continually vary your manner of proceeding as various circumstances may require. But it may not be amiss, usually, to begin with inquiring into their outward condition. You may ask whether they have the necessaries of life; whether they have sufficient food and raiment; if the weather be cold, whether they have fuel; whether they have needful attendance; whether they have proper advice, with regard to their bodily disorder; especially if it be of a dangerous kind.
In several of these respects you may be able to give them some assistance yourself; and you may move those that are more able than you, to supply your lack of service.
Wesley says that others may know how to do certain tasks of care giving better than we do, but he says that “delicacy or honour” (our fear of becoming sick ourselves, our perceived self-worth which would prevent us from washing out others’ underwear or help them go to the bathroom, those kinds of things ) ought never to stop us from mirroring Christ’s care and love into the life of the one who is suffering.
You will then easily discern, whether there is any good office which you can do for them with your own hands. Indeed, most of the things which are needful to be done, those about them can do better than you.
But in some you may have more skill, or more experience, than them; and if you have, let not delicacy or honour stand in your way. Remember his word, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me;” and think nothing too mean to do for Him. Rejoice to be abased for his sake!
“Rejoice to be abased for his sake”—that’s a powerful (and challenging) thought.
In what present circumstance can you rejoice to be abased for his sake?