Many of you already know of my unwelcome diagnosis of Alzheimer’s’ that came about three years ago. I’ve also told of the promise God gave me that I would be healed. And He sealed it with a sign. I was having horrendous shoulder pain, and God promised, as a sign of His goodness, to heal my shoulder. That pain was gone the next day. The effects of the Alzheimer’s, however, lingered on, and as someone who has been there and knows what it is like, I feel compelled to write this short series entitled, “Living With Alzheimer’s”. The first two parts will present some of the journey God took me on through this trial. I’ve asked my wife to write the final parts of this series, for living with someone with Alzheimer’s is not an easy thing, and my prayer is that if you have been diagnosed with this horrendous disease, or if you are the caregiver of someone who has, you will benefit from the important lessons God had for both of us through this valley in life.
It started innocently enough. I’ve never been good at names, and being a polyglot, someone who speaks several languages, it was relatively common for me to be unable to find the word I was looking for in the language I chose to speak. So when these problems gradually began worsening, I didn’t think anything of it. My wife noticed, however, and being a Speech-Language Pathologist/Therapist, she began trying to encourage me to think of the words. I know she was truly trying to help, but I really couldn’t think of the words, and even trying was stressful.
Then there was the orientation. Never my forte, and when it gradually began to worsen, I thought nothing of it. My wife, with a 30-year career with adult neurological cognitive/communication disorders, was once again the one who did the worrying. I know she was only trying to help me, but her little quizzes about where we should turn, etc., about the day of the week, the date, about reading the clock, they only served to frustrate me. I felt like my problem was being waved under my nose.
And of course the memory. Yes, I’ve always been absent-minded. Shouldn’t it be normal that I lose everything? Why was my wife so concerned? And the difficulties with paying attention and understanding what I read and saw. Can’t the world see I’m doing my best? Why was everyone pushing me to do better?
Perhaps the hardest, however, was the loss of visual skills. I’ve been legally blind in one eye since my childhood, and I’ve never had good depth perception because my three-dimensional vision has always been very poor. So when my visual perception and visual processing began to get worse, it was natural to blame my eyesight. Couldn’t my family see this? Couldn’t they understand what it was like to only have one eye and only see things in two dimensions? Why were they continually talking about the cognitive decline?
My interactions with other people were affected as well. They all seemed to talk around me, as if I wasn’t even there. I was pretty sure that no one wanted to talk to me anymore. And there was that sad way everyone looked at me. As if they pitied me or something. It all made me want to quit trying, to pull into a little shell. There were so many times when I was sure everyone would have been better off if I went into a nursing home!
And all this, with what was considered only MILD cognitive decline! My heart cries out so much for those who suffer from moderate and significant cognitive decline!
There was only one thing I could cling to, and I clung to it with all my heart, mind, soul and spirit: The promise God gave me!
I began declaring myself healed. I began telling people I was healed!
But my walk in faith was hampered, again, by those around me. I know they thought they were only being realistic, they were only reacting to what they saw; but why did they keep talking about my Alzheimer’s? Didn’t they know that it was healed? True enough, we didn’t have the physical manifestation of the promise yet, but when God says it, it happens! My God keeps ALL His promises!
And so I clung to the promise.
That is the secret to going through anything of this calibre, isn’t it? No matter how bad things are, no matter how others around us react, our job is to — CLING TO THE PROMISE! For God keeps ALL His promises. His word does NOT return to Him void: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 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)
No matter what it is you’re going through, remember this: God keeps His promises! We may not see His healing upon us immediately, but when He promises something, His Word will NEVER return to Him empty! It WILL achieve the purpose for which He sent it!
Do you have any idea how important promise keeping is to God? Take a close look at Eccl. 5:4-7: “If you make a promise to God, keep your promise. Don’t be slow to do what you promised. God is not happy with fools. Give God what you promised to give him. It is better to promise nothing than to promise something and not be able to do it. So don’t let your words cause you to sin.” (ERV). Here we see that when we don’t keep our promises, God considers it a — sin! God puts that much value on a promise. And if He expects that of us, then you can be sure that He will also do what He tells us to do!
Never forget: For God to NOT keep a promise would be for God to sin, and we know that God can’t even be TEMPTED by sin: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone…” (James 1:13 NIV). So when God gives a promise, it doesn’t matter if we don’t see the results right away. He still KEEPS that promise! Don’t let others around you discourage you. Continue to cling to the promise, for God WILL prevail!
Join us on Monday for “Living with Alzheimer’s, Part 2: No One Stands Alone”, for another of the spiritual lessons God had for me through the valley of Alzheimer’s…
In His love,
(To access the entire “Living With Alzheimer’s” devotional series, please click here.)