We go to visit to play some cards (Hearts), eat some calzones and have some laughs. And we truly do eat and play cards and laugh.
But we go to also visit with his parents, who live in the attached apartment, whose minds have become the very enemy turning on their own bodies.
The digression is happening quickly now, often from one week to another, leaving us in disbelief and sadness.
We usually have the same conversation on the ride home. We are grateful for a brother and sister-in-law, who faithfully take care of his parents keeping them fed and clean and happy, or as happy as they can be at this point.
But the conversation this ride was different as I expressed my thoughts aloud ….
“I know this will sound crazy but tonight is the first time I found myself grateful they have both digressed to this point. I have always wondered what would happen when one of them went first.
Tonight I find myself grateful for Alzheimer’s as neither of them will ever know or experience the loss of the other.
Even in this horrible disease of Alzheimer’s, this theft of their minds and memories, God has been merciful to them both.”
My husband agrees and we ride the rest of the way home in a silence, which rather than being unsettling, brought a comfort of sorts. A peace.
Life is broken into segments of time – minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years. Each segment passes marking out stages in our lives.
Life is also broken into segments of circumstances – marriage, births, new jobs, a trip, unemployment, buying a house, deaths. Some of these times are filled with joy, some so painful we can wonder how we will ever get through.
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT)
The next day, I am reading ….
“Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated.” (from John 6, MSG)
This stands out to me as I have given up bread for Lent. I had received a gift that night which consisted of three books from a set of Bible Commentaries. And so, I opened up and read …
Thanksgiving becomes Jesus’ way of calling on the Father to display his power.
(New International Biblical Commentary, John, Volume 4, by J. Ramsey Michaels, page 103)
Can this be? Had I missed what was taking place as Jesus gave thanks?
I was thinking He was offering up the proverbial grace before a meal. And yet, here before my very eyes, as my eyes opened fully, I came to see it was more than this.
In giving thanks, Jesus was inviting His Father into the situation before Him, which was seemingly impossible – to feed a crowd with the limited resources in His hands. In giving thanks, He was inviting God to display His power, do the impossible, and take care of their needs.
And in giving thanks, something happened …
“When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” (also from John 6, MSG)
Is this what occurs in our lives, in those segments of times, of circumstances? Can it be in offering thanks for even the seemingly impossible – those most painful of times – that nothing is wasted?
I thought back. Alzheimer’s. It is a thief of the body, of the mind, of the family. Yet just a few nights ago, for the very first time, I was able to see God’s mercy and grace in the midst of this disease only as I gave thanks for this very present circumstance in our family.
Every segment of time, and every circumstance, can be redeemed in and through and by thanksgiving.
Jesus gave thanks.
He called on His Father to display His power.
And nothing was wasted.