Dear John: For over a year now my dad has been dealing with his growing dementia, brought on by Alzheimer’s. I became his full-time caregiver in August.
His struggle against losing more and more of himself has brought us both to tears so many times.
I’m a Christian. I love God. But watching my dad’s mind being slowly taken away from him, and knowing all the while that God could stop it if he wanted to, has turned that love into rage. I just don’t understand how a loving God fits in with this kind of suffering.
I sense God wanting to comfort me, but I push Him away, because it’s like someone beating up on you, and then wanting to comfort you. If God really wants to comfort me, he can heal my father.
I’ve felt angry with God before, but never like this. I think it’s because I have no power to heal my dad, while God, who does, won’t. Why not? Why wouldn’t God do that?
I’m just heartbroken. Honestly, John, any thoughts you might have, I trust you.
Thank you for your trust. Because I want you to have the comfort and strength that you need right now, I wouldn’t advise you to reject the God you love.
I would instead suggest that you use what you and your father are suffering through to open your spirit up to fully identifying with—to becoming one with—Jesus Christ on the cross.
At his most desperate moment on Calvary Hill, Jesus cried, “My father! My father! Why have you forsaken me?”
Now, in the moment of your greatest need, you are nailed to that same cross, and crying those same words.
It seems to me that if ever Christ was with you, it’s now.
What you still have, as a Christian, is hope. Because you have been promised a better world than the one in which you and your dad are currently suffering.
I say that this is the time for you to believe in that hope, to trust in the promise, made to you by God, and proven through the bodily resurrection of Jesus, that after your short life on earth is done, your eternal life in Him will begin. And in that heavenly new life, you will be reunited with your father, who will be whole again.
As for accepting succor from a God who seems to be cruelly wronging you, consider that maybe it’s not God who is responsible for your father’s suffering. Maybe it’s people.
Maybe God allows for human suffering, because, out of love for all people, he will not violate the free will of any human being (not even one who is violating someone else’s free will).
Seems reasonable to guess that we, the human race, could have long ago cured Alzheimer’s—but that we didn’t, preferring instead to spend our money, time, and resources waging war, hoarding our wealth, ignoring the sufferers.
Maybe, forty years ago, a child was born who would have cured Alzheimer’s, if only she hadn’t starved to death.
Maybe, by imploring God to do for us what we so stubbornly refuse to do for ourselves, we put God in the impossible position of having to choose between taking control of all human experience (that is, of en masse violating human free will), or of sorrowfully continuing to wait for the day when we realize that our salvation lies not in Him/Her alone, but also in our loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Send your question to John@JohnShore.com—or use our Contact form. (Letters may be edited for brevity or clarity, and will be published anonymously.)
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