The following is the transcript of my short devotional message shared in STM's Chapel last tuesday.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Text: Isaiah 49:13-16
The past few months have been a very interesting journey for me. It is interesting because it has been a journey of discovery. It has been a journey that comes with a mixed bag. It has been a journey that is mixed with joy and pain, laughter and tears, and delight and frustration. It has been a journey where I am confronted with difficult theological questions. Some of the difficult questions that have been on my mind are: What happens when a person could, at times, no longer remembers God? How does this affect the person’s identity in Christ?
These questions arise because we have been caring for my father who is now advancing in his Alzheimer’s disease for the past couple of years. Caring for a patient such as this not only requires much patience and love, it also demands out constant attention and care. Some days, Dad would be able to recognise the family. In times like this, he would still be able to joke with us, tell us stories, and sings along with us. At some other days, he would not be able to recognise us. He would not be able to recognise my mother and my sister. Some days, he would look at me, and he would think I am someone else, and called me by some other name. At times, he would say to me, “Who are you?” About two weeks ago, I walked out of my bedroom and I greeted Dad. And Dad said, “Who are you? I know my son lives in that bedroom, and who are you coming out of my son’s bedroom?” Some days, he is a father I know. But on some days, he becomes a father that I never know.
Dad finds it hard to read the bible. Words do not seem to make much sense to him now. He finds it difficult to make sense of a sentence. He really struggles to read the bible. Some days, Dad finds it even hard to pray. One time, he looked at us and asked, “What is prayer? I don’t know how to pray.” At times, Dad surprises us about his faith. One day, Dad suddenly asked the family to prepare food on the table because he needed to pray to his ancestors. We assured him, and told him, “Dad, we are believers. We worship God. We don’t worship our ancestors.” Dad had, for a moment, forgotten that he is now a believer in Jesus.
That leads me to this question: When a person could no longer remember how to pray; could no longer read the Bible; could suddenly forget that he is a believer in Christ, and could sometimes forget God, how would you minister to a person like this? What would be this person’s identity in Christ?
As I was reflecting on this, my mind was brought to the passage we read earlier – Isaiah 49:13-16. I am comforted that despise Israel’s unfaithfulness, God remains faithful. Even in times when Israel laments that God has forsaken them, God reassures that he will not forget. He still remembers them even in their exile, and God promises that there would be restoration for Israel. Even if a mother may forget the baby at her breast, God will not. That is enough for me. God still remembers. Even though Dad’s in his condition may forget God, God will never forget my father. God has engraved my father in the palms of his hands. Dad forgets, but God remembers. I pray that this will be an encouragement to you. Despite what we have gone through, even when we forget God, God remembers. That is enough. And may we remember God while we are able to. This is the very reason we come to our Lord’s Table that has been prepared for us to that whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup, we do it in remembrance of our Lord Jesus. Let us come to the Lord’s Table, the table he prepared for us so that we could remember him