I was sick and you visited me
Anyone who has volunteered with us on a shelter night knows we welcome guests battling colds, pneumonia and bronchitis in the coldest of the winter months.
It is heart wrenching to hear the deep, racking coughs that disturb our guest’s sleep. There really isn’t much we can do, but welcome them in and help them be as comfortable as possible. We offer simple comforts like a hot meal, hot tea with honey and lemon, a warm place to rest for the night. Just having a place to lay down and rest is a gift for our guests in that situation.
In this passage, Jesus gives thanks to those who have visited the sick. He says that when we visit with the sick we are visiting with Him. This is a powerful perspective to think on.
There is the obvious and literal meaning in this sentence. We think of someone who is temporarily physically ill. The cold will pass. Bronchitis will heal. Pneumonia is more serious, but temporary. However, some of our guests have come to us with more serious illnesses.
Some of our guests have come battling cancer which may or may not be treated. Others come to us with various degrees of mental illness. The invisible illness often leads to the greater need for a visit. Loneliness can and often does lead to depression. Anxiety builds to fear which leads to paranoia.
One of the greatest gifts we can give to our guests on any given shelter night is the gift of listening. When we listen with our heart, mind and soul, we are better able to give a word of encouragement. A word of hope. This….this is often how our guests experience being “seen”. It helps them feel heard. It helps them feel valued and respected.
The world is filled with all kinds of illness. Dis-ease. Shelter nights are a great opportunity for us to extend a place of welcome and a sense of “ease”.
This season, when you come and volunteer with us, remember that your gift of listening mirrors this invitation from Jesus to visit the sick. You may find, in the moment, that your own sense of “dis-ease” is lightened as a result. And together we know that Jesus is pleased that we have loved one another well.
I look forward to serving with you this season! Not signed up to volunteer yet? It’s not too late. Join us by filling out the New Volunteer application today. You are needed!
Did you know that November 1st was the beginning of early giving for Colorado Gives Day?
Severe Weather Shelter Network has set a goal to raise $20,000 during the month of November toward our $75,000 Colorado Gives Day goal. Your gift given today helps us provide space to listen well to our guests who need a place to rest, and a place to be heard. Give your best gift today through our SWSN Colorado Gives page.