There are eight Bible passages/verses that I keep close by when I’m called to a patient’s hospital room. I’ve never unloaded all of them in a single visit and I can’t image a situation where I would reference more than two or three.
I’m sharing eight here because they cover the most difficult of circumstances, offering the most helpful insights and hope for patients and families in a range of patient circumstances. Knowing these eight Bible passages/verses will give you the resources you’ll need for the unexpected questions, anxiety, and concerns you’ll face in most hospital visits.
If you are a church pastor or a congregational layman assigned to pastoral visitation or even a chaplain looking for biblical resources for your ministry use, keep these eight passages/verses near you. As you read on, I’ll first share the Bible passages/verses and I’ll follow that up with a little bit about how I use it.
1) John 9:1-3 “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
This passage is good to share when a family ask Why would God allow this to happen? or any “why” question like Why him or her, they don’t deserve this? Essentially, all why questions are the same as the disciples’ “who did sin, this man, or his parents?”
Jesus is responding by saying: Things happen. We live in a sinful fallen world. At any given time throughout the day we are exposed to the possibility of an unexpected accident, illness, or tragedy. However, whatever may happen to us is an opportunity for us to show others “the works of God” despite the accident, illness, or tragedy. You can read more about this at the post “When Your World Shatters.”
2) Matthew 13:24-30 “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”
This passage is another good one to share when family asks a “why” question like Why did this bad thing happen?
Here’s the lesson: God gave us a world of good seed but His “enemy” has been at work sowing bad things into our world. God’s plan is to destroy the weeds of the enemy at the final harvest when Christ returns to take us to Heaven. I share more about this at my post “Why Do Bad Things Happen?”
3) Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”
This is a good verse to share when death occurs. Here in the deep south, most people share this belief and at the time of a death I find family voicing this before I choose to.
Knowing that we all have an appointed time to die, means that God is not unaware of a loved one’s death and He is not haphazardly playing games with people’s lives. The grief over a loved one’s death will hurt, but knowing that it’s their appointed time will relieve some guilt. I share more about this at my post “Appointed Time to Die?”
4) Psalms 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”
This is a good verse to share when family have to make a decision to end mechanical life support or when death has occurred. A good approach to sharing this is to comment that this verse isn’t saying that God delights in death, because death is the enemy. But it is saying that God delights that one’s mortal battle is over and they are transitioning to eternal life in Heaven.
5) Isaiah 41:10 “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
I share this promise in nearly every visit I make, and I typically make it the concluding highlight of my prayer with the patient or family. Whatever the challenge, fear is present. The patient may be facing death or a frequently done surgery, but fear for the outcome always looms with the patient and the family.
6) Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
This a good Bible promise to share in differing patient circumstances. It is a good springboard if you wish to encourage the patient or family to look to God during their hospital stay and to assure them that He is going through the process with them.
7) Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”
This is a good Bible promise to share with family after a loved one’s death or after the patient and family receive bad news from the physician. The point of this promise is that the Lord is close when we are hurting most.
8) John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
This is a good Bible promise to share that has an application for a range of patient circumstances. In this verse you have the promise of peace in Jesus despite the overwhelming troubles of this world.
These are the eight Scriptures that I carry with me to whatever patient circumstance I may be called to. It could be a death, a trauma, a bad car accident, a heart procedure, a cancer diagnosis, or a knee replacement surgery — any one of these Scriptures can be used to encourage these patients.
If you have any questions about using these eight Scriptures in a pastoral hospital visit, please contact me.