When Family and Friends Are Not Around to Help You When You Are Ill

“For He will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help.” (Psalm 72:12)

I know that I am blessed to have a family who has stepped forward when I have had instances where I have been recovering from surgery or an infection. Though they live more than a thousand miles away, they come when I need them. At the same time, I have smaller, daily needs when they couldn’t be here and friends did not show up.

Last year at this time, still in an Outrigger splint from joint replacement surgery and not allowed to drive, I was literally taking a taxi around our little town to pick my son up at school or take him to karate.

When I asked his AWANA leader if he could pick him up (we are a block away) I was given a “meant-to-be-funny-but-not-funny-at-all” comment about “if he remembered.” So, how do I explain that to my son? You can go if the leader remembers?

The woman at my church who tried to help me find a ride to therapy had difficulty locating a person out of our 7,000-member church. When she called me she forgot my name–and she had the same name as me!

I tried to take comfort in the irony that I am a speaker who explains to pastors the needs of the chronically ill and I couldn’t find someone in my church to help (They did eventually find someone, but she also had surgery scheduled and had her own list of doctor’s appointments.) I tried to laugh about the fact that my friends didn’t call me, even to take me for coffee.

I told myself God would use the situation so I understood the depths of how hard is it to ask for help. And how emotional it is when you ask for help and get no response.

Scripture tells us God will deliver us if we cry out. I am still learning how to reconcile what that means when you absolutely, positively have to get to therapy or your surgery was pointless–and you’ve called everyone you know, a Taxi is $120, and a bus would take 6+ hours. Spiritual delivery and hope from the Lord I understand. Logistics? Well, I am still learning how His hand works in that and I just wanted to let you know I understand how it feels when people disappoint you. You are not alone.

Prayer: Lord, teach me when and how to cry out to You. You know my needs and promise to provide for them. Help me understand where to turn when all resources are used up.

About the Author:
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries which she began a few years after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 1993. She is the author of “Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend,” available at http://beyondcasseroles.com and 100% of the proceeds support Rest Ministries.

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23 thoughts on “When Family and Friends Are Not Around to Help You When You Are Ill

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  2. Such a sad scenario that happens way too often in churches! My heart went out to you reading this Lisa as you couldn’t even rely on your “friends” to help. What is friendship all about anyways? Just remember that God knows what you are going through and you’ll be rewarded over and over in His timing!
    hUgz 2 U Lisa,
    Belle

  3. Hi Lisa,
    My it’s beem ages since I saw anything by you and missed you.I missed hearing from you,but believe me I understand about pain and how it slows you down big time or stops you for spells.I pray people of the church wise up as to how they are NOT doing as they should.Keep the faith and pray your pain gets better and better.Write me if you feel up to it.
    Love,
    Shirley

  4. Hello Lisa –
    Boy can I empathisize with you a million times over with the lack of people being there when you need them the most. ‘Funny’ how that works, isn’t it? But the only thing that ‘saves heart’ is the fact that our Lord never leaves us nor forsakes us. He sticks closer than a brother, and is always there with us. His timing is perfect. Although it may not be a physical contact that we are perhaps looking for, He gives us the inner strength that we need to make it through our circumstances, or sends the means to make it through what we are facing. I am so thankful for all you do for each and every one of us. You are such a blessing. You remain in my prayers daily for added strength in your walk with Him.
    Love n Prayers,
    Ada

  5. Dear Lisa… I can see how God is using you for His glory even with all you had to go through. Bless you honey and please continue to bless us with your devotionals. They touch our heartstrings. HUGS~ Nancy Dittert

  6. Lisa, I knew you understood. Since becoming semi-shut in, I have lost every local friend I had, including my ‘best’ friend who is the women’s counselor at our church! After months of trying to fool myself into thinking that ‘it will go away soon’, I was diagnosed with two debilitating back diseases. Soon I began to rely upon God’s promises to “lift me up”. 2Samuel 22:34. Psalm 18:33, Hab 3:19, Isaiah 40:31 are my favorites. The best part, you know, ‘the silver lining’, is learning to let God be my best friend!

  7. OK, so I had the perfect response to this earlier, but somehow it didn’t post, so let me try again! Somehow I know it won’t come across quite the way I want it to this time around 😦

    While reading this I was deeply saddened by the fact that the AWANA teacher didn’t step up and say, of course he’d pick her son up that week, and any other week that she needed the extra help, I mean it is only a block away…in fact, being an AWANA teacher I’d have thought he might have offered her a little more help, like “perhaps if you need anything else, just let me know and I’ll see what I can do to get someone to help you out.”

    When it comes to the church of 7000 and not one could drive her to some appointments, that is soooo sad. Many churches have a whole list of volunteer drivers that will do things like this at a days notice, sometimes even less because they consider it the Lords work. Often even the Pastor will do it himself if no-one else happens to be available. When she said the person who finally offered was one who had her own appointments to work around, it didn’t surprise me a bit.

    Even though I suffer with chronic pain each day and have many appointments and other things on my calendar, I try and help out others WHENEVER I CAN!!

    I’ve heard it said that THE LESS PEOPLE HAVE, THE MORE THEY GIVE!!! I certainly can see that being true in a lot of cases.

    ~Steph
    http://thispainsux.blogspot.com

  8. Many of us find ourselves isolated on many levels with the challenges we face.

    In terms of practical help or even a phone call of enocuragment, we seem to have fallen off the radar screens of care with the people we once had in our lives.

    You’d think our “church family” would be the ones to step forth first but that has not been my experience.

    On the other hand, I have found that God provides a means for care and more importantly for me to keep my priorities straight in knowing “He will make a way when there seems to be no way”.

    Thanks for addressing this seemingly universal cry, Lisa.

  9. Dear Lisa…I’ve encountered the same problem many times with our OLD church. We changed churches to a much smaller one. The people are much friendlier and call and and check on myself and my husband (who is also disabled) when we are unable to attend church. I’ve yet to ask for a ride but am confident the people there would certainly help. Our old church was a very busy church–activities all the time AND when we joined we were told we were expected to at church for EVERY service…many times the pastor said during a service that “he didn’t understand why people didn’t come to church wen they were sick…and that they should be at church so they could be prayed over”. EXCUSE ME???? I had MRSA for a year and a half…it was not something I wanted to share with others!
    When we left that church, only ONE person from the congregation called and while I was recovering from my second cervical surgery, a torn bicep myself, and various problems with my other chronic illnesses neither the pastor nor anyone came to see me…aren’t Christians supposed to “Visit the sick”? I realized that unless you were involved in everything…you were ignored. My husband ran into members occasionally and was met with wither “we haven’t seen you at church for a long time” or “have you found another church”…the latter usually met with a gasp when they were told we changed demoninations.

    Have you thought about visiting some other churches? You might, as we did find a place where you feel much more at peace and welcomed.

    Praying for you….Linda

  10. Sorry for the spelling mistakes…I didn’t sleep well last night…it should have said..torn bycep “muscle” and whether isnstead of “wither”…I think you can figure out the rest of the errors. LOL

  11. My heart hurts for all of you who can relate so well, and yet, I think it’s therapeutic for us to know we are not alone and that when people aren’t able to help it’s usually not because we have done something wrong–people are just busy. I find those of us in pain are often the ones who reach out to others, even with our limited strength, because we know just how much it means. Thanks for sharing all of your comments. You encourage me!

  12. Pingback: Latte With Lisa – Can Fear Spur on Anger

  13. Lisa…I’ve been wanting to send you this picture of the Teacup purchased from your website some time ago…it’s filled with Irises that my husband, Ron, and I grow. SO, I made it my “gravatar” so you could see it. I love flowers…they always lift my spirits AND I love my teacup! Linda

    btw…I really like the background on this page.

  14. Boy I can 100% relate to this finding friends to help even with a simple tasks as I live alone on a disability. At this very time I’m trying to find someone to take me to hospital 2 days from now for a test your NOT allowed to drive afterwards. I too have had problems in the past with churches and requests made, everyone is “too busy” or whatever. When others contact me they expect me to jump right away but I call them and again “too busy”. I hate to burden my 2 children as they had committments and work conflicts.

  15. After years of being chronically ill, I am just coming to grips with “friends” who always have drama going on (perfectly valid excuse for not helping out, ever) but the drama never ends and the excuses just get more elaborate, but they’re never too busy to call to ask you to add another request to your prayer list. One friend continues to suggest the “deliverance” theory of healing. I think it’s time to move on. I’m quite weary of all of it. I’ve been sick with a respiratory illness on top of the ongoing issues and barely could get off the couch and had no food in my house and my “friend” said they’d call to check on me. Needless to say, I didn’t receive a call until the following week! Guess they thought the crisis would be over by then. Wrong! but still no real response. So glad to know I’m not the only one experiencing this nonsense regularly.

  16. Lisa, you and all the contributors have been such a support and blessing for me for about two years now but I have not commented until this devotional. Thank you so much for showing us your heart and your hurt. I was in tears by the end of it because of course the isolation has been one of the hardest issues. The friends that don’t call anymore, the social events that are missed, and the horrible feeling of lonliness. Thank you for pointing me back to God again and again.

  17. Pingback: Huff Post Article: Why Are We Expected to Be Brave in the Face of Illness?

  18. Pingback: 7 Secrets the Chronically Ill Want Chaplains to Know

  19. Coming in late here, just found this site, but did want to add that yes, I understand completely. Fortunately I’m not quite as isolated and without help as your post, but I can see how it could happen. And I DO get very, very tired of being the one to reach out and ask for help, when it would be sooooo nice if someone would call me and ask me if I needed anything, for a change. In the meantime, I’m just grateful for the two friends I have that always manage to help me when I call and ask. Life does go on, doesn’t it?

  20. Hello Just found your post this is a really important subject and one I think most people can not wrap their heads around.

    How can you understand if you are not walking in the shoes of a person with chronic pain and illness. When we go to the doctor they have the pain scale from 1 to 10.

    People are rushing around busy with their jobs, families, choirs, hobbies, events, and well I think it is painful to be around sick people for most people. Most people just don’t want to put the energy out to help you if your illness is going to be longer than a few weeks.

    We had lot’s of support and help for a month after I survived the semi truck accident. Soon the phone stopped ringing and reality sat in, it was a very sad and difficult thing to accept. We lost many long time relationships some of 30 years why? I am sick and I cannot change this. Unreal.

    We have learned a great deal and we are grateful for GOD’s love in Jesus Christ name to hold us tight in the storm of our life. GOD is good and when reading the bible GOD wants each of us to help one another it is his purpose. In the end we will each have to explain to GOD what we did with our time here on earth. I want to do my very best to help others the best I can.

    Lets call it as it is! Selfish people won’t help another friend, aquaietence in time of need it’s that simple.

    I talk about helping another human being or animal on my blog Donkey Whisperer Farm all the time. This subject is very important to me.

    GOD bless you and your family two and four-legged!
    Melody

    • Invisible Sin

      Invisible illness, invisible friends, invisible family
      What happens then?
      The pain becomes worse
      Loneliness sets in
      Next comes depression
      Is that not a sin?

      They don’t want to hear, talk of what they can’t see
      Don’t care if you cry
      It’s redundant, you see
      Keep your chin up
      Lie about how you feel
      But wait, isn’t that?
      Yes, that is a sin

      I’m NOT invisible, I just want to scream
      It’s the illness, you see, that isolates me
      Do they care, do they know, do they think about me
      Or do they think in their hearts that they’re better than me
      Because guess what people—guess what if you do
      You’ll find in the end that it is not true
      With that kind of logic, you will not win
      Because I know for SURE, that THAT is a sin

      LMWilkins C2012

  21. I think that this is a real and honest issue.

    As I have struggled through and been blessed to at time find someone to care or listen a time or two, your heart leaps you feel connected. Until the mere fact that you often can’t keep up the phasade of a “How are you?” Peaple get tired of hearing the same type of things even if its really not. As one person said to me “they can’t handle an Ey’ore”. Trying to to cry I laughed and said I funny, silly I laugh at my self even on some of the toughest days.

    But just as there are those who are bigots, or do not follow Christ because it is not the Norm or popular thing to do or simple because it is a bit of a sacrifice they have no idea the huge blessing or oportunity that they are missing in the big picture -May God open society and the Christian communities eye’s to thoese in need and hurting around them!

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