Mom asked the other night if anything could be done about her memory loss. I told her no, that’s part of the disease (dementia), and that’s why she lives with us now. She sighed and asked if we knew how long?
How long till what? Till she can no longer reason? Till she can no longer live with us? Till it’s over? Till death? (That’s when dementia is “over.”)
How long? That question is echoed in Scripture. We are anxious, impatient, fearful creatures. We want to know. NOW. Or we think we do. We think we could bear up under it better if we knew when it would end.
How long? Is this a sprint? Or a marathon? Or a triathlon? If I don’t know how long, how am I supposed to pace myself?
We think that knowledge is the key to freedom. If we knew, then we could plan better for success. We could better direct our resources.
The psalms, Jeremiah, Habakkuk—all ask the question, “How long?” It’s not wrong to take your questions to God—that’s exactly where you should take them. But maybe we’re not able to hear the answer, or understand it. “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?” (Jer. 12:5) Maybe we need to learn to live with mystery. We’re not meant to know everything (seriously—have you ever met a “know-it-all”?)!
We crave certainty, we want to be in control. But Ps. 131 offers a different perspective–trust: “O Lord,…I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
“Marvelous” here means “beyond one’s power.” Mom’s dementia is, in this sense, marvelous. It is beyond her power and mine and the doctor’s. We can’t fix this. We can’t stop this. Only God can heal this, and He will, when Mom joins her Savior in heaven. We don’t know how long till He does.
But we do know that when He does, it will be worth the wait.