Alzheimers. Parkinson’s Disease. Dementia. The diagnosis of any brain disease that leads to dementia is tragic and usually offers a bleak prognosis. Patients who cannot remember the events of a day before, or even an hour before, who forget their kids and revert to a long forgotten childhood are a special kind of woe. The caregivers for these ones often suffer great personal grief as they recognize how much the patient has lost. In the course of ministering to those with failing minds the kind caregiver practices a generous ministry of which I stand in awe.
On top the loss of memory, patients with forms of dementia often show surprising behavioral changes. A once gracious and sweet grandmother suddenly becomes beligerent and foul mouthed. A once kind and gentle man responds with violence and abuse. The effects of the disease impact much more than the memories. The whole person is changed by the illness. With such radical changes of personality and such forgetfulness of so much that is important, what are the spiritual ramifications of their disease? If one who trusted Jesus for salvation forgets Him, is that person still saved?
Consider two spouses. One finds out his wife has Alzheimers and will soon forget all about him. He declares he will not stay with a woman that doesn’t remember him and hits the road for warmer weather and companions with their full mental faculties. Anyone recognizes that only a selfish lout would leave his wife because he could not put up with being forgotten. The other spouse finds out her husband has advanced dementia. He soon forgets her name and their many years of marriage. Each day he asks her who she is, wondering if she is a sister, an old friend or the nurse for that day. Each day he grumbles and complains that she is not doing for him what she should. She selflessly and kindly cares for him, despite his lack of memory and his hurtful words. Examples of the second, tender spouse are abundant. The compassion of a loving spouse in such difficult circumstances is an example of selfless love that stirs the heart with admiration. Will God be less faithful and less compassionate than sinful man?
God in His grace and compassion never turns away from those who have trusted Him for salvation. Though men are forgetful, failing and undeserving, God never falters on His promises. He never forgets His children. “The Lord knows them that are His.” (2 Timothy 2:19) The promise of God is to give eternal salvation to all who trust Jesus for forgiveness of sin. God will never go back on His Word, no matter what. God cannot and will not lie. (Titus 1:2)
Ultimately, salvation is not dependent on the memory or faithfulness of the Christian. Salvation always relies on the faithfulness and fullness of Christ. Jesus does all that needs to be done to save and to keep saved. One does not have to be able to remember his salvation experience to remain saved. All those who are saved are saved by Jesus not by their intellect, personality or memory. Nothing that happens in this life, the life to come, in heaven or on earth can separate he who is saved from the love of Jesus. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) Mercifully, if physical damage destroys the brain so that you no longer remember the Christ who saved you, He will in no way forget you or remove His saving presence from you.