>Home >Media >Daily Devotional >NAD Health Topics

The Dreaded Word: Alzheimer's

Monday, October 2, 2023

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. Ps. 57:1, NIV.

Alzheimer’s—the word filled my mind with dread, fear, anger, and a chilling sense of hopelessness. The doctor was compassionate yet direct, knowing that my family needed to confront the reality as quickly as possible. Dad had given indications that things had changed—getting lost driving to familiar places, neglecting to finish a project, giving a puzzled glance when conversation didn’t flow easily—situations that always came effortlessly for him before. The reality was that we were going to lose him, not in an immediate, physical way, but through a slow and sad deterioration of his mind. An odd sense of urgency came over me. I must live every precious moment I could with the man whom I could always find myself in a debate with, and who loved me dearly.

I questioned God’s role in this. How did He fit into our inescapable tragedy? Where did miracles tie in with what we were facing? Why Dad? Tough questions to grapple with, and answers did not come—at least, not for a while.

Dad became carefree, happy, and oblivious to the tragedy, while our family began working through the emotions of shock, denial, and grief, then rapidly moved toward a sense of camaraderie and communication. We would have family councils to talk openly about our fears and together discover our talents and abilities to meet those challenges.

Slowly I began to see God’s hand in our little world. He didn’t cause Alzheimer’s, but He did guide us to Emory University, where Mom and Dad were able to be part of a research team/support group. God didn’t move mountains to cure the illness or restore Dad’s vocabulary, but He did create opportunity for finding creative talents in our family and friends to meet the specific needs.

Where was God and why did it happen? I don’t have all the answers, but I am at peace knowing that He gave us strength and comfort through the actions of family, friends, and the medical professionals who loved Dad. And really, it won’t be long until Dad and I can debate once again—only this time it will be on things infinitely more fascinating.

Just as the rainbow follows the rain, smiles follow the pain. If you look for the blessings in the bad things, you’ll find them. Let God be your refuge.

Used by permission of Health Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.