The Shut-Ins

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Welcome to Meditation Moments.

I’ve been thinking today about the many shut-ins and those who lie in hospital beds. I often think of these because I myself spent years in “shut-in land.” Perhaps that is why this little verse of Martha Snell Nicholson’s is so close to my heart. It’s called “Long Rows of Beds,” and it goes like this:

Long rows of beds. In each a body wracked
With pain. Pale faces drawn with anguish
Or grown dull with apathy and weariness.
Sometimes old mothers, with white hair,
About to leave this world.
One with a sweet face and snowy, fluffy hair
Lies all unconscious on her narrow bed.
Her husband, gray and bent
Stands over her in helpless, baffled grief.
It seems to me
That surely she must rouse and comfort him,
As she has done so many times before.

The daily round goes on
In the hospital and the X-ray and the surgery.
But sometimes sudden laughter runs
Like quicksilver down the room.
It’s where strangers often feel
Their hearts draw close
In common ties of suffering.

Long rows of beds,
In each a soul, blood-bought.
Beside my own bed on a standard
Rests a jar of ruby blood,
And through a tube runs the precious drops.
But lying here I think of one
Who gave His precious blood for me,
And with the blood
He gives me life eternal
And a home beyond the farthest stars
Where I shall be forever
With my blessed Lord and King.

He fills my hands with treasures,
My heart with joy unspeakable,
And glory such as feeble tongue cannot describe.
He gives me angels to watch over me
And His robes of righteousness for me to wear;
And all the riches that are His are mine,
Because I am a joint heir with Christ the Lord.
I look down the long rows of beds
And I yearn to share my treasure with them all.

Long, long rows of beds.
Through dragging hours of night
Sleep will not come to me, for I must pray.
O Jesus Christ, Thy passion and Thy pain
Are throbbing in this quiet moonlit room.
Thy blood was shed for every sleeper here;
Thy love broods over them.
I see Thee pass from bed to bed
With outstretched hands,
And I hear Thy voice say,
“Come unto Me and I will give you rest.”
And yet again, “I am the way, the truth, the life.”
And yet they sleep,
These whom the wing of death has brushed.
I dimly see white faces on the pillows,
And my heart is torn with grief
Because they do not know the heavenly visitor,
And with the morn they will awaken,
Some of them unaware that He was here,
Nor see His footprints on the floor,
Nor hear His voice still ringing on the air.

Oh, great Physician, hear my earnest prayer
And show me how to make Thy presence known,
Thy blessed face grow visible and dear
To those who lie in these long rows of beds.

Adapted from "In a Hospital Ward," by Martha Snell Nicholson (1898–1953)

I wish I could say some word of encouragement that would stir your faith anew and help you to reach out and touch Him. I think the best I can do is to give you verses from His Word that will give you new courage and restore withered hopes. Here’s one of the most wonderful ones, in Luke 4. It tells about Jesus, when He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read.

“And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.’” (Luke 4:17–19)

So if you’re brokenhearted, if you’re bruised, if you’re bound, in these verses Christ offers Himself to you as a mighty deliverer. I know from personal experience how He can set you free! And in these other wonderful verses in Luke 9:2 and 6, it says, “He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick … and they departed and went through the towns, preaching the Gospel, and healing everywhere.”

Then in Jeremiah 32:27, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: Is there anything too hard for me?” Then Malachi 4:2, “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.” Then, “Daughter, be of good comfort, thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that very hour.” (Matthew 9:22) All these wonderful promises in God’s Word if you’ll just take hold of them!

Jeremiah 30:17, “I will restore health unto thee and I will heal thy wounds, saith the Lord.” And Matthew 15:28, “Great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” And Matthew 8:17, “Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” Then one of my favorites: “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal body by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” That’s Romans 8:11.

And then Matthew 9:35: “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” Isn’t that precious? All these wonderful scriptures, and there are so many more!

You can say with Psalm 119: “Remember thy word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.” (Psalm 119:49–50)

Here are some closing words:

When the storms come—they will, they will—
Do as His disciples did long ago,
For He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Don’t give up the ship, but call on Him.

He says, “Call on me and I will answer thee
And show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.” (Jeremiah 33:3)
Stay in the boat. Don’t give up the ship!
How frightening in these days are the storms of life,
But with the Pilot aboard, we don’t have to be afraid.

From “Don’t Give Up the Ship” by Martha Snell Nicholson

God’s Word says, “Thanks be unto God which causeth us to triumph in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:14) These wonderful verses, you can claim them all! Prayer changes things, and it’s for you, my friend.