“Mom, what have you learned from this trial?” 

Here’s a how friend’s wife, who is fighting cancer, recently answered this question:

1. We must listen. Real listening is so important. Let the patient express all his/her feelings without giving advice—unless asked for.

2. When you say, “I’ll pray for you,” make it truly a priority and continue to intercede. (Sometimes we say it so easily, and then forget to do so.)

3. Practical help is important too. Visit the person and give the caretaker a break. Provide meals, rides to doctor’s appointments, etc. Offer to sit with the patient while the caretaker goes out on errands.

4. Don’t judge! We have a plaque with an Indian prayer, saying, “Don’t criticize your neighbor, until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.”

5. If the illness is of long duration, remember to continue to pray, visit, call, and/or send encouraging notes. Those who are chronically ill need to know that they have not been forgotten as time goes on. Your life continues as is, but their lives have often changed very dramatically. Do not become weary in well-doing.

6. Start your day with God. One of our forefathers said that he would not speak with anyone in the morning until he had first spoken with God. Sometimes in our busy lives we put off our devotions till “later.” How foolish we are! We need Him every hour. Once, as my mom was at the end of her life and suffering, we sang the hymn to her, “We need Thee every hour.” She shook her head, and therefore I said, “Mom, what’s the matter?” She whispered, “Every minute!” The truthfulness was evident to me as I lay on the radiation table—so frightened by all these intimidating machines. I realized that I needed the Lord even during the 30 second treatment—during which I prayed, “Lord, help me through this. Bless these means so that the lesions may shrink. Please heal me, O God!” And so begin your day with God. He is so worthy that we should make Him the priority of our day!