I found a really great article by Lisa Copen that talks about how the church can help minister to the chronically ill (look for the link at the bottom of this post). The article not only raises great ways the church can help get involved with their chronically ill parishoners, but it also provides startling statistics about the chronically ill:
- 1 in 3 people in the U.S. have a chronic condition.
- 60% of people chronically ill or living with chronic pain are between the ages of 18 – 64.
- 75% of marriages end in divorce where one spouse is chronically ill.
- Depression is 15% – 20% higher in those with chronic illness or with chronic pain.
- Chronic illness or chronic pain are responsible for up to 70% of all suicides.
Lisa also talks in her article about how difficult she finds it to get to church or to make it through a whole service because of the chronic pain, how uncomfortable the pews are, etc. I can really relate to this. I have been struggling with making it to church weekly because of how miserable I feel when I wake up in the morning. Then when I am able to drag myself out to go, it’s hard to concentrate on the service because all I can think about is how miserable I feel, how bad I hurt, and how hard it is to keep my eyes open. Our church services are very lively, with lots of loud, upbeat music that I have always hoped would liven me up but it doesn’t seem to work most of the time.
Here are some suggestions Lisa hasfor churches to see how they can help those who are chronically ill:
- Take a surveyof the church attendees to see if there are any health needs/concerns they have that they have never vocalized.
- Would providing transportation, having online sermons, etc.help you to get to the church or to listen to the sermon?
- Have a small group or Bible study for those living with chronic illness.
- Have special guests who are living with chronic illness or have disabilities to come and speak to the church.
- Remember that people with chronic illness want to help serve – they just may not be able to serve in the same ways or as much as others.