What if someone told you their wife had woken them up one morning, and without any explanation, put them in the car and set out on a 7-week trip.
Sounds pretty mean, doesn’t it?
When you dig further into the story, however, you learn that the trip was planned together, and it was discussed and review daily for 2-3 months prior to the reported incident.
Well that sounds pretty mean on the part of the husband, doesn’t it? How could he accuse his wife this way?
But when you dig even further into the story, you learn that the husband has Alzheimer’s. Suddenly it all makes sense…The problem doesn’t lie with the husband or the wife. It lies with the disease that causes the husband to be cognitively unable to process it all.
But can you sense the frustration of the husband? From his perspective, he has been given no warning, and suddenly his little world caves in. And of course, we have to see the wife’s perspective as well. Can you sense her frustration at being accused of not giving warning, when she has bent over backwards to help her husband understand what would transpire?
The interesting part of this little scenario is that the wife actually would understand her husband’s dilemma. Although she would be extremely frustrated at her lack of ability to help him understand, she would recognize his frustrations and feel very bad for him. The husband, on the other hand, wouldn’t be able to understand. In his eyes, he has been treated in a manner that is completely dehumanizing and unacceptable…
While you are all thanking God right now for the cognition that you have, consider this: Are any of us any different from that husband? God has left us adequate instruction in His Word. We’ve been given sneak peeks into the future. We’ve been given instruction for today. We’ve been given stories of the past that should help to strength our faith. Why, then, do we live our lives as if God isn’t there? Why are we so blindsided when it seems He has abandoned us? Why do we … blame … God for the negative circumstances?
Oh, this isn’t anything new to our generation. It goes all the way back to ancient Israel. Before Israel ever entered Canaan, God said: “You must not worship any of the gods of neighboring nations, for the LORD your God, who lives among you, is a jealous God. His anger will flare up against you, and he will wipe you from the face of the earth.” (Deut. 6:3,14-15 NLT)
As evidenced throughout the era of the Judges, God was true to His Word. Israel repeatedly turned away from God. They were conquered, they turned back to Him, and He delivered them. Just check out the stories of Gideon, Deborah, Samson, Jephthah, etc. (See the book of Judges)!
We also see prophet after prophet being sent to the northern kingdom of Israel before their fall to the Assyrians. Remember Elijah and Elisha? Check out their stories in 1 Kings 17-19, and the first 14 chapters of 2 Kings! Then there was Amos and Hosea. The books they authored stand as their permanent testimony.
We also see the great prophets sent to Judah: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, along with hosts of minor prophets such as Joel, Micah, Zephaniah, and Habakkuk. The books they authored also stand as their permanent testimony. We also know that the southern kingdom fell to Babylon well after the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel. Why then was Judah so taken by surprise? Why did they refuse to believe the prophet Jeremiah, but chose rather to believe false prophets not sent by the Lord? (See Jeremiah 28)
And then there was the prophecies of Jesus’ first coming. Well outlined in the Bible, to the point that He was even expected. But despite this, the people completely missed the point that He would first come as a suffering servant…
And then there’s us… Remember that God has given us, in His Word, all of the guidance we need in life. He has told us what will happen in the future and has provided warning after warning. But do we notice? Do we remember? Or does everything that happens simply blindside us, making us angry at God?
Going back to the illustration at the beginning of this devotional, we must remember that just like the wife would understand her husband’s reaction, God understands ours. The fact that the husband would even accuse his wife so falsely is a product of the disease. In the same way, the fact that we would accuse God is also part of our spiritual disease, the one called “sin”. God understands, and He continues to reach out time and time again to give us guidance, direction, love, support, etc. And while someone with Alzheimer’s may actually not ever understand that they aren’t being mistreated, we can know God’s heart. We can understand that though we may not see the end from the beginning, God does. And He is fair and just and merciful and loving. We can seek Him. We can tell Him our concerns. We can devour the Word that He has left us with all of the instructions we will ever need. But mostly, we can have faith that He knows, and we can follow Him without complaint or accusation, ever trusting Him when our own spiritual understanding fails us.
Oh, and one more lesson… If you are ever required to be the caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s, remember to treat them in the same way God treats us. Love and support that person. Respect them still as a person, despite their anger towards you. No matter what, continue to try to help them to understand…
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart,
Associate Director, Moderator, Answers2Prayer Ministries