A prayer before visiting someone who is ill
Isaiah 43: 1-2 (NRSVA)
1 But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
Severe illness can feel like a storm has come into your life, sweeping away all your certainties, including trust in your own body.
And yet, I have spent time with those seriously ill who have been a miracle of stoicism, calm, peace, and even joy — like the friend I spoke to, facing a terminal diagnosis who said to me, “I’m not afraid of death. I think it will be like coming home. So I guess I must have faith.”
“I guess I must have faith.” Simple, but beautiful words.
Isaiah tells us there will be floods, but they won’t overwhelm us. There will be fire, but it won’t consume us.
Even when our own bodies seem to do so, our creator never abandons us.
God of wind and water, of earth and flame
Guide me as I enter this place of weariness and struggle,
this place, possibly, of pain
May I bring with me assurance of your love,
not in pious words or platitudes
but in simple, elemental companionship.
Remind me that you are already there, have always been there,
will be there when I am not,
holding this beloved one, whom you created and redeemed,
within the palm of your hand.