I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. Psalm 77:11
A few years ago, while my wife and I were taking our evening stroll in the park near our home, we noticed a very strange sight on the park’s basketball court. A teenage girl, with her back to the backboard, was attempting to lob the basketball over her head and into the basket. Of course, this is not an unusual sight but the unusual thing was the teenage boy who was sitting on the court using his cell phone to video each attempt. The girl must have tried this shot over fifty times but as we neared the court, she miraculously made her basket as the young man captured it on video. I suppose family and friends are enjoying the video of her amazing shooting skill and perhaps her video has gone viral for millions to view as well.
Capturing memorable events by using video, still photography, or the written word are so very important. As Christians, we have an incredible written record of God’s amazing acts: The Holy Bible. In today’s passage, the psalmist declares that he will remember the deeds of the Lord and His miracles from long ago. He does this to fight the devastating depression deep within him as evidenced by his lamenting in the first ten verses of the 77th Psalm.
If you are struggling with the daily demands of dementia, then you’ve probably had some run-ins with depression just like the Psalmist did. I certainly have but when it happens, I remember the deeds of the Lord by reading His Holy Word. When I do this, some special scriptures sooth my soul, encourage me, and bring me peace. One of my favorites is: May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so you that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
This scripture is my prayer for you today as you go about your daily deeds. Hold on to His hope and may the power of the Holy Spirit fill you completely so you may overflow with hope so you might sooth the soul of others.
Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion? Psalm 77:9
Often times when a diagnosis of dementia is declared, the patient wonders if God has forgotten them, if His mercy is absent, or if He is withholding His compassion. In today’s Psalm passage, Asaph questions God and cries out to Him in the midst of his depression. He too wonders if God has intentionally withheld His compassion and mercy out of anger. Nothing could be further from the truth. God does not use dementia as an arm of His anger toward mankind!
It is during these difficult days prior to and after a diagnosis of dementia that God’s compassion and mercy continue to flow freely. These gracious gifts are there wondrously waiting for us, craving to comfort us, and always available to aide us in the struggles we face. All we must do is seek our Heavenly Father and ask for His help.
Perhaps you are feeling angry with God today. Perhaps you are wondering if God is purposely withholding His mercy and compassion from you. Maybe you even think God is angry with you. I’ve been in the same sinking ship as I wrestled with God over these quirky questions. However, God had not forgotten me nor had He withheld His mercy and compassion. They were always available! All I needed to do was open my heart, confess my struggles, and seek His help. Only then did perfect peace flow freely in my life.
Therefore, seek God today. Ask for His heavenly help. Open your heart for His tender touch. He will comfort you and bring you peace for He is your merciful and compassionate Heavenly Father. Remember, He loves you dearly and He will never forsake you!
I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. Psalm 77:1-2
Prior to my diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease, during the nearly 18 month diagnostic period, I spent many sleepless nights in distress trying to understand what was happening in my life. Like the psalmist in today’s passage, I sought the Lord at night with untiring and outstretched hands. My soul refused to be comforted because I was in limbo with regard to a definitive diagnosis for my troubling situation.
As I look back at that distressing period, I realize God used the time to bring me ever closer to Him as I sought His counsel day and night. God knew exactly what was going on but He needed my full attention and complete trust to help prepare me for what lay ahead. Of course, the diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease finally came and with God’s help, I accepted the diagnosis which allowed me to move from victim to warrior. You see, God heard all my cries for help and He was with me all the way.
Perhaps you are currently engaged in the lengthy diagnostic process or maybe you just recently received a diagnosis of early stage dementia. Either way, God hears your cries for help and understands your distress. Seek Him today and ask for His counsel. He can ease your anxiety by bringing a perfect peace that surpasses all understanding. How do I know this? Because He benevolently brought me that same perfect peace in the midst of my mayhem. I know He can do the same for you!
Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them; let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared. Psalm 76:11
Matthew Henry, a noted Bible commentator, wrote centuries ago, “As God’s mercies are new every morning toward his people, so his anger is new every morning against the wicked.” The 76th Psalm stands as a testament to this truth about our Heavenly Father. God certainly hates sin to say the least and His holiness requires Christians to have a righteous anger against sin. Therefore as Christians, we vow to try to live sin free lives and when we falter, humbly ask for forgiveness.
In today’s passage, the psalmist reminds us to make our vows to the Lord, fulfill them, and let the neighboring lands know it! Perhaps in today’s world making a vow to the Lord is an uncommon thing. Besides, what kind of vow could someone make that has been diagnosed with Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, another form of dementia, or some serious illness? Well, let me offer some suggestions:
- To live faithfully in spite of your disease
- To serve as you are able
- To attend church regularly to worship God or listen to a church service if you are homebound
- To continue reading and studying your Bible or have the Bible read aloud if you can no longer read
- To maintain an active prayer life as you pray for the needs of others
- To continue to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.
These are but a few vows that can be made even with a diagnosis of early stage dementia or some other illness. I have added another vow to my list which is to write devotions of love and encouragement for as long as God will give me strength, mental capacity, and insight into the scriptures.
God calls each of us to do something for His glory no matter what our circumstances may be. If you are struggling with illness, think of a vow you can fulfill for God. It will give your life purpose, bring you peace, and draw you closer to your Heavenly Father. Who knows, it might even let all the neighboring lands know how truly great your God is!
As for me, I will declare this forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob. Psalm 75:9
In the Gospel of Luke (18:35-43), Luke records Jesus’ encounter with a blind beggar on the road to Jericho. The beggar, hearing that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, cries out for Jesus to have mercy on him. Of course, Jesus heals him but the interesting part of this encounter was what happened next. Not only did the blind beggar praise God, but all the people who witnessed this miracle praised God too!
When Christ truly touches your life it is so overwhelming that it is impossible not to praise God. In today’s passage from the Psalms, the psalmist declares that he will sing praise to God forever. As I read this Psalm passage, I thought of the blind beggar and the crowd in Luke’s Gospel. I wondered if their praise was only momentary. Did everyone continue to declare praise to God long after this spectacular miracle had faded into history? What happened to their declaration of praise when Jesus left and they faced the daily routine of their lives?
Needless to say, Luke does not follow up with the beggar or the crowd to record the longevity of their praise. To answer this question all we need do is look at our declarations of praise for God. Do we only praise God when we witness evidence of His grace and goodness in our lives? Do we continue to praise God even when the trials of life linger? As for me, I strive to be like the psalmist and declare my praise for God for a lifetime. How about you?
Don’t let the struggles of life stifle your praise! There is unbelievable power in praise especially in the midst of suffering. This kind of praise flows from deep within and is only made possible by the Holy Spirit thriving within us. Therefore, let your praise flow freely forever for our God is truly an Awesome God!
Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts; do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever. Psalm 74:19
When Alzheimer’s disease strikes, we are often forced to make some difficult decisions as our lives begin to change because of the disease. It doesn’t mean we completely surrender but often times we must seek early retirement, significantly reduce the number of hours worked each week, or even give up control of profitable business ventures which provided support for a lifetime. I personally had to take early retirement even though I was at the height of my career as an analyst and engineer for the Department of the Army when Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease struck.
When this happens, we wonder how we will make it. Financial concerns weigh heavily on our minds, our personal identities are affected as we step down from lifelong careers, and our emotional health may be impacted as well. It is entirely possible that we feel like the psalmist felt in today’s passage as we cry out to God not to hand over our lives to the wild beast of dementia! But God often works in very mysterious ways behind the scenes of our lives.
Although the decisions were difficult, taking early retirement significantly reduced my stress and giving up my business ventures eased my financial worries. These two things improved my emotional health making living with Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease much more manageable. Somehow, God made all this possible in the midst of the chaos that was rocking my world. He was gracious enough to keep me from being devoured by my pride and I was wise enough to listen to His instructions. He will do the same for you because He does not forget the lives of His afflicted people!
The day is your, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon. Psalm 74:16
Today’s passage from the Psalms stands as a stark reminder of how God provided the day and the night. He established these boundaries during creation and formed the sun and moon to light them accordingly. As each new day dawns, I am reminded that God is in complete control of things far beyond my understanding. His faithfulness in these magnificent events that continue to happen every day helps me realize His grace is just as continual in my life.
God’s glorious grace literally lights my life in so many different ways. When the darkness of a foggy day overwhelms me, God always brings a glistening of light to pierce through the fog. Over the past few days, these little glimmers of light have included:
- Beautiful blossoms from the flowers in the perennial beds here at the Hornback Homestead
- Unusual birds on the pond bank that linger so I can enjoy the beauty of their unique features
- Incredible sunsets that simply take my breath away
- Precious passages, overlooked in the past, that touch my heart during my morning Bible reading
- Wonderful periods of prayer when God’s presence is overwhelming
- An incredible Vacation Bible School at our church where the kids warmed my heart.
These glistening glimmers of gracious light break through the fogginess bringing me ever closer to my Lord. Like the Apostle Paul said, “His grace is more than sufficient!” So I rely on the Lord’s grace to help me deal with the daily demands of dementia.
As you deal with your daily demands of dementia, remember that God’s grace can pierce through the fog that often accompanies dementia. Since He established the light for both the day and night during creation, then He can surely establish gracious light that glimmers in your life as well. Lean on His grace, trust in Him, and come to know that He is God Almighty.
But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. Psalm 73:28
Abraham Lincoln once said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” As I thought about this great president’s statement, I was humbled at his honesty and overwhelmed that his wisdom and the wisdom of those all around him were insufficient to handle the perplexing problems facing a divided nation. It reminded me of King Solomon who also asked for wisdom to guide the nation he had been handed by his father King David.
As I thought about the problems facing President Lincoln during the Civil War, it was quite apparent that human wisdom was not nearly enough to govern and lead the divided nation. Lincoln’s faith drove this giant of a man to his knees when he realized divine wisdom, inspiration, and encouragement were desperately needed to guide the nation. He knew God was always near so all he had to do was stop, kneel, and humbly ask for guidance and God would provide.
How often do we face difficulties that require divine wisdom and inspiration to overcome? Probably more often than we think! As I struggle with the impacts of declining mental abilities brought on by Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I find I also desperately need divine wisdom and inspiration every day. Of course, my difficulties pale in comparison to President Lincoln’s! However, his method of seeking help is available to me as well. Why? Because God is near, because He is my refuge, and because my faith is strong. Therefore, all I need do is kneel and ask for God’s help and in His way He will provide. God has never let me down and His wisdom was always more than sufficient for all my difficulties.
If you are struggling today and need divine wisdom, inspiration, and help, do as Lincoln did and humbly kneel before the Almighty. God is always close by just like today’s passage emphatically states and He longs to be your place of refuge in time of trouble. His wisdom, grace, and mercy are but a prayer away. Lean on Him today and find spiritual strength for your struggles. Then, like the Psalmist proclaimed, tell of all God’s deeds!
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. Psalm 73:25
There are so many lessons to be learned in life. Countless books have been written throughout the ages to advise and educate humanity on how to live a fruitful, faithful, and fulfilling life. Yet somehow most of us continue to miss the mark. I recently read a very short book entitled If Only I Knew by Lance Wubbels. In this book he offers the following gentle reminder to help you treasure your relationship with God:
If only I knew that the love of God… knowing God loves me… reaches into my fears and insecurities, I would have allowed His love to surround, engulf, and pierce into the depths of my soul.
As I read these remarkable words, I thought about all the fears and insecurities brought on by Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The list can be quiet long but my short list includes:
- Will I have enough money for future care?
- How long will I be able to care for myself?
- Will I always recognize my family?
- How long will I be able to work in the yard and gardens?
- How long will I be able to write?
The list can go on and on if I decide to dwell upon these “will I’s and how longs.” If I do this, then I lose sight of God’s precious gift of the good days and great times I still have remaining. But as I thought about the list, I noticed the absence of a very important question, “Will I always desire God above all things?”
Today’s passage from the Psalms stands as a stark reminder that I should always desire God above everything else on earth. He must be my love and my life. Everything else can fade away or be given up but my love for the Lord must always remain, must always be vibrant, and must always come first. For whom in heaven do I have but Him!
Whatever your struggles are today, don’t let them come between you and your love of the Heavenly father. He must be first in your life even in the midst of strife. Nothing on earth must be desired more than Him. Remember, He love you dearly, so dearly He gave His Son for you. Let your desire for Him deafen your struggles so you will never have to ask, “Will I always desire God above all things!”
Yet I am always with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Psalm 73:23-24
I remember many of the “first time” events I faced growing up as a young boy in Baltimore. These included learning to ride a bike, starting first grade, joining my first little league baseball team, mowing my first lawn for money, signing up for the Boy Scouts, learning to drive a garden tractor, and taking swimming lessons just to name a few firsts. All of these new activities were accompanied by a bit of anxiety, uncertainty, and trepidation. However, the one thing I remember fondly was that my father was there guiding me along each new journey and encouraging me in each of these endeavors.
Today’s passage from the Psalms reminds us that our Lord is with us always as well. He is so close that He even holds our right hand as He guides us with His wonderfully wise counsel and comforting touch. What a perfect passage of heavenly assurance for the more serious “first time” events we face in life.
Of course, now I am facing a new “first time” event, Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Although my earthly father has long since passed away from the very disease I am struggling with, it is my Heavenly Father’s awesome assurance and His holy presence that makes living with Alzheimer’s disease so much more manageable. Why? Because I know my Lord is guiding me along every step of my journey.
- When I take on a new challenge, He is guiding me.
- When I struggle with the daily demands of dementia, He is guiding me.
- When my memory fades on foggy days, He is guiding me.
- When I write words of encouragement through my daily devotions, He is guiding me.
- When I am frail, weak, and unsteady, He is guiding me.
- And when I take my final breath, He will be guiding me!
If you are struggling today because of Alzheimer’s disease or any form of dementia, you need a gentle guide, a heavenly host, and a compassionate counselor. You need someone who will always be with you. Someone who is so close that He will hold your right hand from this point forward. The Lord wants to be your gentle guide, your heavenly host, and your compassionate counselor as you face the daily demands of living with dementia. Remember, He will never forsake you and He will always be with you guiding the way!