Having been in ministry for more than 25 years, I have had my share of hospital visits. The majority of these visits was simply to provide a word of encouragement to a parishioner who was in for a brief stay. But then there have been the other times that brought tears not only to my eyes but also to my soul. You know the ones where the physician comes to share the prognosis with the family, and it isn't good news. These are the moments that leave you feeling completely helpless and at a loss for words-in spite of what you may have learned in pastoral ministry class. I have discovered that during these times, the most effective form of ministry that a pastor can render is simply the ministry of presence. Although visiting the sick and the suffering becomes, in most cases, trying at best, years spent in ministry have taught me to handle it with a certain degree of professionalism and grace.