Alzheimer’s: Through the eyes of faith

05.May.2011by Karen in Health· 5 comments

There are many stories from families who have faced the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in the life of a loved one. As believers, we want to have God’s perspective for both the person who has Alzheimer’s and the family as individuals providing the care.

The Person

The person who has Alzheimer’s is still precious in God’s site. It is important that we have a clear picture of the value and sanctity God places on life. It is more than simply “the quality of life” of life that is important. Life itself is a gift from God and we do not have complete control over it. Each person is created in His image to fulfill His purposes. These thoughts written by Colleen Carroll Campbell in The Human Face of Alzheimer’s are worth our reflection.

Alzheimer’s disease exposes the flaws inherent in locating the self exclusively in the mind and assuming that only those with awareness and memory are persons. As ethicist Gilbert Meilaender wrote recently, in a paper presented to his colleagues on the President’s Council on Bioethics, “one might take the living body, not the immaterial will or the power of choice, as the locus of personal presence.” We are not minds alone or bodies alone, but “embodied souls” and “ensouled bodies.” To understand this truth is to understand the dignity of those whose minds are fading, but whose presence as persons can never be in doubt. Those with Alzheimer’s disease remind us most vividly that our humanity comprises both our bodies and our minds, and perhaps something else that transcends them both.

Even when a person no longer remembers, we know that God does remember. There are many examples in scripture where “God remembers” 73 times). He is committed to His children through thick and thin. When we can no longer do anything, He remains faithful to act on behalf of His children. Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”

The Caregiver Family

The caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s As followers of Christ, we know that we are not on this journey alone. God always is there to meet us in the difficult times. This journey has many ups and downs but we need to know that He is walking with us through the very tough times (Isa. 43.2). When we don’t know what to do or where to turn, He has promised in His word that he will instruct us and teach us the way to go (Ps. 32.8). We need to remember His goodness. “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” (Ps 27:13,14)

I encourage you to listen to this message Transforming Pain: How our suffering can change us into likeness of Jesus and, thus, glory to God. On Dr. McQuilkin shared this chapel message with the students at Columbia International University April 3, 2008. Some of this grew from his first-hand experience in caring for his wife Muriel who had Alzheimer’s. The message is available in three ways:

  1. The podcast listen online or downloaded
  2. Purchased the CD on line for $7
  3. By Phone order from the CTU bookstore 803.807.5263 Request CD  #080403 Transforming Pain  by Dr. Robertson McQuilkin

Dr. Robertson McQuilkin was president of Columbia Bible College (now Columbia International University) in South Carolina when in 1990, he resigned in order to care for his wife Muriel who had Alzheimer’s. Their story is another testimony to God’s faithfulness. You can hear a portion of that testimony by listening to his resignation speech (about 2 minutes).

Articles in Christianity Today by Robertson McQuilkin sharing about his wife’s long battle with Alzheimer’s

Book: A Promise Kept. In the book, Dr. McQuilkin shares the story of God’s love and faithfulness lived out through this husband’s devotion to his wife as he cares for her during her illness.

God’s faithfulness to His children is not limited to the challenge of Alzheimer’s but is true in all of life. God’s word reaffirms to us in Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” A book written by Robert Morgan called The Promise recounts many stories of God’s triumph in the midst of peoples adversity.

May each one of us with the Apostle Paul be able to “boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (1 Cor. 12.9)




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