“Dear God, please let my mother die.” This was the title of a blog I recently read on the Internet. The author was a woman who wasn’t certain if there even was a God and was struggling with the day to day care of her mother battling dementia.
I work with families who are caregivers for their parents and the sentiment expressed in this blog is quite common. Let me say by the limited experience I have, dementia may be the most complicated and emotionally draining disease while families try to maintain peace of mind. There are so many facets to this disease that even the most brilliant medical minds don’t know how to cure it.
So how does one respond to the cries of this daughter? Her blog took me back to those moments when I too was a caregiver for my mom. Several years ago, my mom was diagnosed with cirrhosis and emphysema , two horrific conditions leaving one in constant pain and discomfort. Needless to say, my mother was completely coherent and aware of her condition and that made it more difficult for our family. I too had my moments with God, yet the difference between me and this woman was I am a firm believer in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Truthfully I also prayed God would end my mother’s suffering simply because I couldn’t stand to see her in such pain and depression. However in those moments, God revealed to me that I could only see her suffering from a physical perspective. My mother’s suffering was actually much deeper.
My mom never attended church regularly and for years I wasn’t even sure if she believed in Jesus. We never talked about faith growing up and at times I must have seemed so foreign to her. One night just before putting her to bed, I became fearful for my mom’s salvation. Would God be loving and merciful enough to save someone who lived seventy-three years without a personal relationship with Him? It suddenly dawned on me that my mother’s condition was not just physical, it was also spiritual. Her soul was dying from a spiritual death as a result of her lukewarm faith. I became overwhelmed by fear over the possibility of never seeing my mom in heaven. And that’s when I realized I’d been praying for the wrong thing. I wanted my mom’s suffering to end when actually it would be her suffering that would bring her to Christ.
One night, mom was so weak she couldn’t even lift a Dixie cup. I had to lift the cup and gently place it on her lips to take a small sip of water. After I placed the cup back on the table, I noticed my mom looking at me, smiling. She reached for my hand and squeezed it so tight that my wedding ring actually left an indentation in my finger. That wasn’t my mom. That was God’s strength in her, showing me that even when we abandon Him, He never abandons us. I was so deeply moved by His mercy and love. I knew at that moment my mom would be spiritually saved.
My mother’s pain and suffering are what brought her to Christ. Had I not been a part of her suffering, I would have missed seeing God in a way that still today leaves me deeply humbled. I’m praying for this daughter that in the midst of those long and agonizing days, she too would discover God. Perhaps her mother’s suffering will also be the vessel God uses to reveal His mercy and grace. Wouldn’t that be an amazing story to read!