Retired people find themselves at home a lot, with time on their hands. So they say. I wouldn’t know. Then, sickness often restricts people to a bedroom or a couch for a time. Mothers used to stay at home with little children (congratulations to those who still do), and they’d sometimes feel stir-crazy being confined with the toddlers. And let us not forget the golden agers who lose mobility, are stuck at home, or now find themselves living in a care facility where their every activity is regimented and controlled.
Life situations sometimes restrict us, and we can’t do what we once did. We can’t go out, we can’t get about, we can’t decide when and where to go.
Governments around the world have decided that the coronavirus is serious enough to restrict their citizens at home. We can debate the merits of such actions all day, but the truth is that our liberties are curtailed and we cannot go and come as we please.
So how do the saints of God react in this present crisis?
First, we give thanks to God. Isn’t it wonderful that we have comfortable homes in which to spend our time? Isn’t it great that most of us still have toilet paper and food and water? Isn’t it a blessing that we have entertainment, books, means of communication, comfortable beds to sleep and nap in, to help us pass the time? Isn’t it a motive of thanks that many of us have families to get to know better? Isn’t it a marvelous thing to have Bibles in hand and resources online for study? The motives for thanksgiving to God just keep on piling up.
“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Ephesians 5:4).
Second, we devote ourselves to God. Confinement to home means we might just have that time we’ve complained about not having before to do things like read our Bibles and expand our prayer lives. We can do more study and memory work in the text of the Word. We can make or update those prayer lists of people and needs. We can pull out those devotional books and start them up again.
We can become more thoughtful people, more meditative, more deliberate. We can learn to think again! We can learn with the ancients: “I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds” (Psalm 77:12).
Third, we serve and teach the Word within our limitations. Isn’t it a wonderful to have the internet? You can teach all day long, if you like. You can share links of faithful teachers to friends and family members. Serving at the moment may come in the form of encouraging others to see the positives in our present limitations. Or it may consist of buying groceries for those in high-risk groups. There are many, many opportunities available to us still.
The apostle Paul had his moments of confinement — chained to a Roman soldier and sitting in jail. But he didn’t sit and whine. He preached the gospel to his captive audience. The gospel, he said, “has become known throughout the whole imperial guard” (Philippians 1:12 ESV). Later, he told Timothy, “I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!” (2 Timothy 2:9). God’s power to save cannot be confined.
Fourth, we grow by exercising the virtues of Christ. Is patience needed at this time of confinement to home? Maybe God is answering your prayer by giving you a time of testing. How about showing more love to our mates, can we grow in that area at this moment? An extra dab of self-control maybe? Wouldn’t this be a good time to turn away from worldly pursuits to focus on more godliness? “More love to thee, O Christ!” Time to train ourselves for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7).
Limitations exist at every turn and in every phase of life. And within every limitation, God can work in us and through us.