|March 30, 2019
By Leigh Boelkins Van Kempen
5 For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.
Read the full psalm.
She had been an indomitable woman! She was strong, independent, wise, determined, and faithful. She was a woman I knew from the community, long before she became a resident in the nursing home where I serve as chaplain. I had incredible respect for her. At least a generation older than I was, she demonstrated for me how a strong woman could manage in a world that didn’t always respect her gifts. I learned a lot from her.
Then dementia invaded her life. It began to undermine her independence. It eroded her wisdom. It depleted her strength. In spite of her determination, she became less and less able to navigate the daily activities necessary to survive unaided, until she finally needed residential care for her safety. This was overwhelmingly distressing to her and to many who had known her self-sufficiency.
But her faith remained intact. We would talk about God—her rock and refuge, her hope and fortress. And as so much was stripped away by dementia, her faith remained. Until. Until dementia took her ability to speak. Until dementia eliminated every shred of her personality, and she spent her final months unable to respond at all, unable to give any indication she was even aware that others were around her.
Even in the silence of profound dementia, God never stopped being her refuge, her hope, her rock, her fortress, her salvation, her deliverance. She waited in silence for a God who never forgot her. And those who loved her kept vigil, waiting for God to call her home.
What was true for her is true for us as well. Whatever our struggle, whatever our trouble, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us” (v. 8). In silence—or in speech— God is our only hope!