THE BIBLE AND DEMENTIA
There are no specific passages concerning dementia in the Bible. The wisest man, Solomon, addressed issues of growing old and death which are applicable to any age-related or terminal illness He admonished:
“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them” – before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain’ when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few and those looking through the windows grow dim; when the doors to the street are closes and the sound of grinding fades; when people rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; when people are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags itself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then people go their eternal home and mourners go about the street. Remember him – before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from and the spirit returns to God who gave it. ‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Everything is meaningless.’”
Solomon acknowledged that, from a human perspective, life can sometimes seem meaningless because of its brevity and problems. There are many challenges as one ages and grows increasingly closer to their appointed time to die. In the face of these circumstances—and especially in the face of dementia related challenges—Solomon admonishes that we remember our Creator before these conditions arise so that we will have a tried and true refuge for difficult times.
Although no specific passages address dementia, a major key to coping with this and any other generative disease is to remember that no matter your circumstances, God’s character does not change. His promises still hold true. Your circumstances do not change His purposes for you.
God is actively working “all things” together for good. If you don’t see any good in your circumstances, it is because He isn’t finished working yet, for “…we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). For some people, one of those “all things” includes dementia.. God does not say that all things are good—as dementia certainly is not good in itself! Rather, God says He works good in all things.
As it has been said, “If you aren’t dead, you aren’t done.” God still has a purpose for those suffering with dementia. You may not understand the “why” of this disease, but you can know that God is still in control of your life. You aren’t done with your earthly mission until God says you are done.
With dementia, you may become uncertain about who you are or confused by the people around you, but God knows you. You are not and never will be forgotten. God declared: “Can a mother forget her baby? But even if she forgets, I will never forget you” (Isaiah 49:15). In verse 16, God declares that your name is written on the palm of His hand. There is no way you will be forgotten!
You will not lose your salvation if your dementia causes you to forget God. The people of Israel willfully chose to forget God, yet the Word confirms that He saved them for His name’s sake:
They did not remember the abundance of [God’s] steadfast love…
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.
(Psalm 106:7, 8)
Claim and continue to trust in these precious promises of God:
“…My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9, NKJV)
I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28:20, NKJV)
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:37-39, NKJV)
Nothing will separate you from God—not even dementia!
When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path;
For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.
Those He saves are His delight, Christ will hold me fast;
Precious in his holy sight, He will hold me fast.
He’ll not let my soul be lost; His promises shall last;
Bought by Him at such a cost, He will hold me fast.
For my life He bled and died, Christ will hold me fast;
Justice has been satisfied; He will hold me fast.
Raised with Him to endless life, He will hold me fast
‘Till our faith is turned to sight, When He comes at last!
Chorus: He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast;
For my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast.
Remember that when you feel you no longer have strength to hold on to Him physically, mentally, or spiritually–He will hold on to you. He will hold you fast!