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What Can Shut-Ins Do?

(The undersigned presented the following to a Senior Ladies Luncheon in his home congregation; many of the thoughts, including those in the accompanying prayer, are taken from the devotionals “The Yoke Made Easy” and “The Burden Made Light” by Alfred Doerffler.)

Sometimes those who are shut-in or on the sickbed wonder what they can do for the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. There is much that those who are confined to home, or even bed, can do for the Lord and His Church, as well as for their own spiritual life:

1) They can count their blessings. God continues to shower His blessings upon us even in days of confinement due to illness or advancing years. When David wrote in the 103rd psalm: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits…” his thoughts weren’t restricted to days and years of the “prime” of life. Every day the Lord forgives our sins, surrounds us with loved ones, gives strength to carry on, provides food and drink, and comforts through His Word. Recognizing these blessings moves the Christian to thank God every day, saying with Jacob at Jabbok: “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which You have shown Your servant” (Gen. 32:10).

2) They can pray. Don’t minimize prayer–what it can do for the one praying or for those or that which is being prayed for! Prayer is talking to God on a heart-to-heart basis. Who is God but our loving heavenly Father in Christ Jesus? As such He is interested in what is happening in the lives of His children. He has given His Son, and “shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32)

We can pray for the Church: for those who are still outside the Church of believers; for missionaries and the spread of the Gospel at home and abroad; for those we know may be growing cold or indifferent to the Gospel; for those we know who might be growing discouraged and disheartened. On Sunday morning one unable to go to church can pray for the pastor and the members that the Lord would bless the message that is being delivered by the called shepherd and being heard by the sheep of the flock.

3) They can praise the Lord. Think of Paul and Silas as they sat in prison (Acts 16). As they were “shut-in” the prison with “feet fast in the stocks” what did they do? They “sang praises unto God.” Similarly, with the Holy Spirit at work in his heart, the Christian can be hopeful and cheerful in the midst of trials and troubles, even glorying in tribulation (see Rom. 5:1-5).

4) They can read. First of all, the Bible! God has given us His Word, the revelation of His will, to make us wise unto salvation, to comfort us in trouble, and to help us overcome our doubts and misgivings. He encourages us to “search the Scriptures” because they are “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16). Our Savior calls God’s Word “the one thing needful.” From that Word we learn valuable lessons as, by faith, we come to grips with the various problems and vexations in life. (Ask your pastor to suggest devotional books and other good Christian literature.)

What if one’s eyesight is dim or failing? There are large-print Bibles and devotional books available; there are Bible audio-tapes. The Lutheran Spokesman, our CLC church magazine, is also available on tape.

5) They can support the church with their offerings. If we can’t give as we once did on a weekly basis, remember the “widow’s mite.” It is not the amount given which is the important thing. Rather, the Giver of all is pleased with that which is returned to Him from a cheerful, trusting heart.

As the advancing years take a toll on one’s physical strength, it is understood that this may sap one’s financial resources. In-home “care providers” may be needed, or one may find it necessary to become a resident of a nursing home or other care center. Yet we are told that more money is being passed along to the next generation these years than ever before–which suggests that many have accumulated sizeable savings and bank accounts.

6) They can realize they are an example to others. We say “are” instead of “can be,” because one way or another we are examples!

At any age or season in life, believers will want to let their Christian light shine. This is as important in “sunset” years as it is when one is younger or middle-aged. At all times may we be able to say with St. Paul: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content . . . ” (Php. 4:11).

Pray that God, through His Holy Spirit, will keep you from becoming a “grumpy old man (woman)” who makes life miserable for those around you by incessant griping and complaining. Rather, pray that God will help you reflect your Christian faith with a confidence and joy befitting those looking foward to an eternity of bliss in heaven with the Savior.

–Pastor Paul Fleischer


Lord God, You have made a covenant with me in which you have promised to be my gracious Father and I Your redeemed child through Jesus Christ. Therefore, I seek You for strength and help, for You are able to save in all circumstances. With the advancing years, I ask You to continue to enrich me day by day with Your love, with Your divine forgiveness, and with Your help. Fill me with the joy of service and teach me to know that I can live to the glory of Your name even when confined to the sickroom or when otherwise feeling abandoned and alone. Preserve me from discontent. Bring to my remembrance the great suffering and agony of my Savior, who has gone to the cross to redeem me that I might be Your own. Give to me peaceful days and restful nights. Bless my home, family, and all my loved ones with your divine presence, and keep us all in that saving faith which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.