I’m not sure what is scarier: A diagnosis of cancer, heart failure or…Alzheimer’s! I’ve never had the former two diagnoses, but I can tell you that the word “Alzheimer’s” from the lips of your geriatric specialist fills your heart with never-before-fathomed dread…And that’s where I found myself in the spring of 2019. Already I couldn’t find my words, I couldn’t follow anything but the most basic of 1-step commands, and that only with repetition and visual clues. Already the computer had become a foreign object to me, I had no idea what day it was or even how to get back home, and I absolutely dreaded any question posed my way that began with the word, “Where”… I was losing everything and had no idea where anything was kept. And all that, and I was only 61 years old!
Those were scary days indeed. Of course, as I have well-documented in previous devotionals, God visited me one day. I had a very sore shoulder, and He told me He would heal my shoulder. I thanked Him, but asked if He could heal my Alzheimer’s as well. He said He could, and then the next day my sore shoulder was gone. I assumed that my cognition would also return immediately, but it did not. Suddenly the stakes were even scarier! God had said He would heal me, but my symptoms didn’t change!
As the weeks went by, we slowly began to see gradual improvement in my cognition. Even then, however, the gains were often punctuated by days of apparent cognitive loss. Where was the healing God promised me?
I’m sure most of you can relate. It may not be a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, but many of you are taking stands of faith, but God…doesn’t seem to be coming through!
I could certainly relate to the visual images of Psalms 23 in those days:
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” (vs 1) Even though my cognition was far from perfect, I had to realize that I lacked nothing! My God was still with me, He provided me with all my needs, He surrounded me with supportive family, I had nothing to fear.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” (vs. 2,3a) Yes, I may have been on the road of Alzheimer’s, and no, it wasn’t of my choosing; yet God brought me such peace of mind, heart and soul that it was as if I could hear the quiet waters of a gentle stream tinkling in my ears. Never have I felt closer to God.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Vs. 4). Yes, those were the darkest of valleys. Nonetheless, as long as I kept my eyes on God, I had no fear whatsoever. Oh, there were moments when I let thoughts of a dim future draw my eyes from Him. There were times when my greatest fear was to be tucked away in a nursing home, surrounded by uncaring strangers, but even in those moments, God sent my wife to reassure me that she would always care for me, no matter what. And as soon as I turned my eyes back to Him, the fear left me completely. God’s protection was most certainly my comfort.
I will say that my cognition is still not what it used to be, but God isn’t finished yet. He will complete what He has started, His Word will NOT return void, for He has promised: “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11 NIV)! And in the interim, until that day when He restores my cognition completely, I will hold on to this, my favorite Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul…Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalms 23:1-4, NIV)
Our God is amazing. He loves you enough to hang on a cross for you, to die in your place! And He will be your shepherd as well. Having trouble believing this? Why not take it to God? Talk to Him, tell Him how you feel! And then listen for His gentle response. It won’t be long before you will see how great He is. It won’t be long before you realize how He is leading you through those green pastures. It won’t be long until you begin to see His rod and His staff as they protect and comfort you, as He quiets and refreshes your soul…even in the MIDST of those dark valleys!
In His love,
(To access the entire “The Sling for God” devotional series, please click here.)