Let’s Not Forget Our Shut-Ins, By Wendell Ingram
A few years ago I regularly visited an elderly woman in the nursing home who had taught me as a small child in Bible class. My family lived just down the road from her and her family when I was a small boy and she had been a faithful Christian ever since I could remember. I remember well her gentle and quiet spirit and her years of faithful service to Christ.
I visited her often during her stay in the nursing home, but there is one visit that I remember vividly because of a statement she made as we talked together. In this one simple statement she taught me a lesson I hope I never forget and I would like to share that lesson with you. As we talked together, she told me, “When I first came to the nursing home, I had visitors almost every day, but now hardly anyone ever comes to see me.”
Since the day that I heard that statement I have observed this to be a sad reality when people have to be confined for long periods of time at home or in the nursing home.
When they are first confined, they receive regular visits from family and friends but it seems the longer they are confined, the fewer and farther between the visits become. At a time when they most need encouragement and moral support from friends, family and Christian brethren, so many times, after a few months they are all but forgotten.
In our busy world, it is so easy to forget those who are shut-in and can no longer participate in our fellowship. When their absence is fresh on our mind, it is easy to be mindful of their needs and to make time in our busy schedules to visit and encourage; but as time goes by and we become accustomed to their absence, it is easy to forget.
How long has it been since you visited those you know who are shut-in at home or in the nursing home? Their physical needs are probably being met, but they are in desperate need of encouragement and fellowship. Can you imagine what it must be like to sit hour after hour, day after day, longing to see a familiar face of a brother or sister in Christ, longing for the encouragement that can only come from fellowship with brethren? Can you imagine the discouragement and loneliness that must develop as someone who is shut-in notices the once frequent visits from brethren dwindle to almost none? This is the sad reality for many who are confined at home and in nursing homes.
Brethren, it is our responsibility to encourage and edify one another, and our assemblies are designed and provided to give us opportunity to meet those responsibilities. But…there are those who are physically unable to be at the assemblies. They desperately need our encouragement. Let’s not forget them.
By Wendell Ingram