Thursday, October 6, 2011

God and Alzheimer's

People wonder about how a loving God can allow bad things to happen, but when the bad thing is Alzheimer's disease, the question of "why" is not usually the first one that comes to mind.  There is an initial panic, and the questions run more like this: "What am I to do?  Where do I find help?  Who will make decisions? How will I survive?"  

When my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I cried out to the Lord with these kinds of questions.  

I've learned that great emotion of any sort--grief, pain, or fear--can keep us from hearing God's voice clearly.  It is at times like this that having a history with the Lord is extremely helpful.  The first time a terrible crisis of grief or pain is encountered reminds me of the caliber of fear I experienced as a child when I suffered a bad dream. The first time I awoke in the night following one of these bad dreams, I believed the nightmare was real and my terror was intense.  But although I went through a phase during which I suffered recurring nightmares, the fear was never again so all encompassing as on that first occasion. On a subconscious level I had become aware that the bad dream was not real, I would wake up; and everything would be alright.  Similarly, although I was miserable and afraid at the time I was told my mother had Alzheimer's disease, I had a healthy confidence that the Lord was going to help me simply because I knew He had helped me in the past. 

When we've walked with the Lord for awhile, we learn that even though we may not be able to hear him clearly, He is with us nonetheless. God's presence with us does not depend upon our ability to perceive Him.  His power, presence, and provision in our lives do not depend on us at all, but on Him.  When we belong to Him, we have the right to cry out to Him; and He isn't particular about how we do it.  Eloquence is not required.  The prayer might take place while on a solitary walk, in a roomful of people, or leaning with one's head on the steering wheel of a parked car sobbing out broken words of anguish, as I found myself soon after my mom's diagnosis.  He hears our prayers.  

If you are in the midst of your first major life crisis as a Christian, please trust what I tell you now; the Lord will help you.  He will help you in ways you can't see or imagine.  As you trust Him and cry out to Him the path before you will be made clear.  Don't be afraid.  He loves you, and He will take care of you.  

Here is comfort from Scripture: 
God does not willingly bring grief or suffering (See Lamentations 3:33;) His will flows over all that is grievous and changes darkness to light (See Psalm 18:28;) all things are incorporated into and transformed by His perfect will (See Romans 8:28;) where time and eternity touch, His will is done on earth as in Heaven (See Matthew 6:10;) we can’t yet perceive what we will one day see clearly because we walk by faith and not by sight. (See 1 Corinthians 13:12.)
Back in April I wrote a post entitled "Where is God in Alzheimer's?" and included the guidance the Lord has provided me these past seven years as I've learned to live with my mom's failing memory and to trust the Lord day by day for the path that lies ahead.  If you are hungry for more comfort and help from the Lord in the wake of a diagnosis of dementia for yourself or someone you love, I pray you will be helped by what you find here.  Clicking on the title of the post at the beginning of this paragraph will take you to the April post. 


  1. Linda, thank you for the post! It is so needed! I have been struggling lately, struggling to hear and feel the Lord, but what a great reminder that He is always there! I actually asked Him a couple weeks ago to show Himself to me in human form and it was amazing how blessed I felt that week in just the simplest ways! God is so good! Thank you!! By the way, I hope you don't mind, but I shared your blog with a friend who found out his wife has early-onset alzheimers. She is in her 40's and they have 3 kids. I told him about your blog and others that have helped me and he wanted to get the links so he could check them out. God bless you, you're in my thoughts and prayers!

  2. Thank you, Stacey, and thank you for sharing my blog with your friend. I can't tell you how that blesses me. Sometimes when we suffer, the Lord allows us to comfort with the comfort He provided through the valley. It is the sweetest blessing when someone else is helped by what my mom and I have been through. God bless you, and thank you for the prayers.

  3. A friend at church was looking for my blog and found yours. She sent me your link, and you put so eloquently what I feel. There's another blog, Porchops and pianos which I love also, as she is a Christian and a great writer of emotions. In my own blog, I'm not as eloquent, but I tell of visits with mom, and then add things I find through research that mimght help others. Its For a while I also was writing Mom's life story at the end of each blog, but when I got to my first marriage, which ended after 31 years due to his leaving for another woman, and I had written mom's story up to that wedding, since her story becomes mine too, I hit a brick wall. I pray God allows me to go forward with that in the future, because mom's story after that was filled with caregiving of my dad for 40 years through diabetes, heart surgery, numerous strokes, etc. I find you get blessed by doing the blog, because you get the feedback that thousands are reading your words all over the world from China, to Russia, Columbia, and countries I've never heard of.

    I will try and buy your book, and I am going to share your blog on my own blog. God Bless You.