I do volunteer work in our local hospital, and in general I find it very fulfilling. But what can I say to someone who has no hope of recovery? I try to cheer them up by urging them to think positively, but to be honest that seems kind of empty.


Yes, it is empty, not just because it’s not realistic, but also because it avoids the most serious question any person can ever ask.

What is that question? Simply this: Where will I spend eternity? Some answer it by saying there isn’t any eternity; once we’re dead, that’s the end, and we can’t look forward to anything more. Others answer it by saying they hope there might be a heaven, and perhaps they’ll go there, although they don’t really know. Still others refuse to even think about it.

But the Bible gives us a different answer. The Bible tells us that we aren’t just a body or a mind; we also have a spirit or soul that God has implanted within us. And just as God will never die, neither will our souls, for they were created in His image. Our bodies will die; our minds will decay, but our souls will live on, either in that place of absolute loneliness and despair the Bible calls hell, or in the joy of God’s presence in heaven forever.

Ask God to help you be an encouragement to your patients, both by your presence and by your words, including words of hope and salvation because of Christ. By His death and resurrection, Christ gives us hope — hope right now, and hope for all eternity. Most hospitals have chaplaincy programs that also may be of help to you. Remember Jesus’ words: there is “rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:7).