6 Ways to Let Those with Chronic Illness
in Your Church Know You Care
1 in 3 people in the U.S. have a chronic condition. If it's not you, it's someone sitting next to you.
Too often, a chronic illness, such as fibromyalgia, or a chronic condition like back pain from a car accident, is invisible. Those who live with chronic illnesses do everything they can to look presentable, get to church, and sit through the service. But as someone with rheumatoid arthritis, as I stood during worship and grasped onto the pew in front of me to balance my knees that need joint replacements, I nearly laughed as the worship song said, "I will stand in spite of pain." Surrounded by a church I loved, I still felt lonely and misunderstood.
Churches have an overwhelming amount of needs that must be fulfilled where the need is obvious. So if people aren't saying anything about their pain, doesn't that mean they are coping with it fine? Their faith and the ability to pray for strength should be enough, right?
Let's look at some staggering statistics:
• Despite what we may assume, 60% of those who live with daily illness or pain are between the ages of 18 and 64.
• The divorce rate among the chronically ill is over 75 percent.
• Depression is 15-20% higher for the chronically ill than for the average person.
• Various studies have reported that physical illness or uncontrollable physical pain is major factors in up to 70% of suicides.*
There is cause for concern. Whether you see it or not, your church body has many ailing bodies, and they are often accompanied by broken spirits. So, if people aren't talking about their pain, how do you know how to reach out to them?