How can we minister to someone who is terminally ill? Danny Ho shares his experience.
We live in a fallen world. It’s thus nothing out of the ordinary to fall ill and sometimes sadly, terminally ill. Unless you’ve experienced it personally, most of us could never understand what a terminally ill patient is going through. Nonetheless, we can be with them and show them we care. Here are some things to consider when ministering to them:
Know that the journey is uncertain
When faced with a terminal illness, the individual may get confused, and have many questions that might be impossible to answer. For instance, they may ask “Why me?” Or “If God is a loving God, why does He allow this illness to come into my life?” Or “Can I trust God for healing?” Sometimes they may feel angry and depressed because their quality of life is being affected by their illness. They may also be worried about the journey ahead and what would happen to their loved ones should they pass on.
No pat answers
When facing uncertainty, the terminally ill person does not need pat answers as his questions often go deeper than the cognitive level. Answers such as, “God must have loved you very much for you to go through this!” Or “Cheer up, we have an eternal reward and home in heaven!” will not help.
It’s often not about getting a direct answer but a question to God’s faithfulness, “Why does God allow this to happen to me? Why has He forsaken me?”
Be there, just listen
Sometimes we want to be useful and offer answers and solutions. Instead, let us just offer our presence and a listening ear to show care to the patient. In fact, sometimes we might not even have an inkling of an answer. When that happens, just admit it and say, “I can sense that you are in deep pain but I also don’t understand why you are going through this.” We also need to let those who are suffering question God.
Pray for God’s presence
Throughout the scriptures, we see many instances of fear. God does not chastise those who are fearful and ask “Why?” God’s answers to the “whys” are usually found in the Person of Jesus. Instead of answering us directly, He would ask us to look at His pierced hands and feet. God does not provide us with intellectual answers, but when we are suffering, He promises His presence, “Do not be afraid! For I am with you always!” Such is the amazing love of God—it is a love that reaches out because He knows what it is like to be fearful and promises us His presence.
The terminally ill person may lose heart and hope. As you listen and offer your presence, you are telling them that they matter. More importantly, you stand in between them and God—lending a listening ear to them and saying a word of prayer to God. Reach out to them with empathy because while they may cry out to God in confusion, they may find solace and comfort in your presence as you help lift them up to the throne of grace in such times of need.
About Bro Danny Ho:
Bro Danny Ho is Principal Consultant at One Place Consultancy. His passion is to reach out to the hurting and reconnect them with the Abba Father heart of God. He provides counseling and life skills talks both to churches and the corporate world. He also believes in providing training to lay persons to care for one another in the church setting.