“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
“I wonder” began my friend, “how a person’s Christian witness sustains itself when the believer has lost everything including the ability to reflect God’s presence in her life?”
This question has perhaps crossed the minds of those people whose family members have been stricken with dementia. Possibly, part of the answer to such a question can come from believing friends as well as the family. It can also come from the person himself; as it did in the case of Pastor Robert Davis in his book My Journey into Alzheimer’s Disease. Be gentle with your loved ones. Listen to them. Hear their whispered pain. Touch them. Include them in activity meaningful to them. Help them stay in touch with God. Let them draw from your strength[i].
Pastor Davis had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of fifty-three. Through his own personal experience he was able to give insight into the challenges as his disease progressed.
The Christian caregiver can be the channel used by God to reflect what it means to exhibit the love of Christ. One such story was related to me by a husband whose wife had been stricken with Alzheimer’s and was living in a Christian residential home.
There had been a patient in the same residence as this man’s wife. Swearing and cursing became a daily habit. One day, at meal time, one of the aides sat down beside the cussing woman. After a few minutes whenever the woman uttered a profanity, the aide leaned into to her and whispered, “I love you.” The aide did this several times until the woman became quiet.
The man who related this incident to me remarked that this lady was seldom heard swearing after this incident.
We can be the conduit of Christ’s love as we nurture and care for the person who no longer is able to exhibit a personal witness of God’s truth.
“A new command I give you; love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34,35 (NIV)
[i] My Journey into Alzheimer’s Disease – Robert Davis; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1989