"Prisoners in their own homes" are not us people who are "shut-in" at home right now under quarantine or shelter in place orders due to COVID-19. For those who may not know, "Shut-ins" in the church refers to those members of the church who are not able to get out. They are shut-in their homes because of age and/or physical infirmity. Remember them. Think of them.
Many of us have been "shut-in" in your homes for a week or two because of the virus and are going crazy. How many puzzles can you put together, how many shows can you binge on Netflix, how much beef jerky can you snack on before you start to go insane? Many of these shut-ins at church have been locked inside a virtual prison of quarantine for yeeeeaaaaarrrrrrsssss. How does your present distress help you be more sympathetic towards them and what they have been going through?
How can your new experience help you relate to their every day experience? How can you now understand the mental anguish they deal with in wanting to go somewhere but being prohibited from doing so? Especially considering assembling with the saints in worship; can you now understand better how much their heart would desire to be with the saints... but they just can't? How much that pains them? Week after week. Month after month. Year after year.
This present COVID circumstance gives you just a taste of their daily struggle. Though most who read this are still pretty well off during quarantine. You still probably can't feel the struggle of living on such small means, or being so dependent on others for your necessities and care, and dealing with daily physical pains that just never go away. But you at least get a taste of the mental (and possibly spiritual) battle that being "shut-in" presents.
So what? What does that mean? Knowing what we know now, will this change us in any way? Will it change how much we think about shut-ins? Will it change how much we reach out and serve the shut-ins? Will it change how much we get involved in helping out the shut-ins? Will it change how active more members of the church are in establishing relationships with the shut-ins? Will it change how any of us parents get our children involved in being mindful of and serving these who need it the most?
In other words, let’s not JUST think of the shut-ins... let's be more sympathetic of them, more understanding of them, and better servants to them. Let's not just THINK more, but let us also DO more. More today. More tomorrow. And more the rest of our lives.
Remember, one day you might be one of them. If the COVID or any other danger of life doesn't get you, and by the grace of God you get to live to a seasoned age, YOU might be the one who is stuck in your living space with no way out, no matter how much your heart longs to go. Wouldn't you cherish people who think of you? Wouldn't you cherish people who do for you? Wouldn't you cherish those who have chosen to love you and establish a regular contact relationship with you? Wouldn't you cherish someone who was all of these things to you and for you? Good; now go be that person for someone who needs it... today. - Luke 10:25-37; Matthew 25:31-46