Elsbeth’s body and mind had wasted away from Alzheimer’s disease but God’s love for her was still strong as it had ever been. This story (written by Win) will encourage you to never give up and to see that God can do what is humanly impossible.
The effect of alzheimer’s disease
Elsbeth was my husband’s aunt and this is her story. She worked very hard all her life on a farm and had little outside contact with other people. She did not have many luxuries during her life. She had one son and had lost two others after birth. We did not live close to them. One day, my husband and I decided to visit Elsbeth and her husband, as it had been sometime since we had seen them. On arrival, we were very shocked on see Elsbeth and to learn that she had Alzheimer’s disease. She did not acknowledge us. She cried and muttered continually and said things that made no sense. The only sentence I could understand was when she said, “I am afraid of hell.” I knew Elsbeth did not have a Christian upbringing and I did not think she knew anything about God.
God had a plan
We had lunch with them and when we were leaving we stood at her front door. I put my arm around her waist. We stood there so long my arms began to ache but if I stopped holding Elsbeth with two arms she would get one of my arms and put it back around her. One of my arms was wet with her tears and these tears moved me deeply. I told my two sons about this experience and we agreed to pray for Elsbeth. From that point onwards God impressed upon me the importance of telling Elsbeth about God and his wonderful message of Heaven, escaping judgement and His gift of eternal life. But I was troubled about how to do this and I cried out to God for help. But now I know that my God knew and He had a plan.
Praying is important
Shortly after our visit, Elsbeth broke her hip and she was to be hospitalised for the remainder of her life. A few months later we visited her in hospital and after this they moved Elsbeth to another hospital even further away. During our visit, Elsbeth did not acknowledge us. I wondered how I would ever get a time to talk to Elsbeth about the things I knew God longed for me to discuss with her.
With God we must expect the unexpected!
For me to be able to tell Elsbeth about God’s love, three conditions were needed. Firstly, I had to visit Elsbeth in a hospital that was not close to us. Secondly I had to get to speak to her alone and thirdly she had to understand what I was saying to her. But as I prayed I came to realise that what I thought was impossible was possible for God.
Don’t give up
“For nothing is impossible with God” (Matthew 19:26).
One day, for no apparent reason, my husband suggested that we take a drive to the town where Elsbeth was in hospital and on arrival the hospital staff told us; “Things were not looking good.” Elsbeth was a shadow of what she once was and she had to be fed with a drip. She was curled up in the foetal position. I went home very downhearted, as I felt very discouraged with the situation. I saw my son, Greg and I told him what Elsbeth looked like and that she was even curled up in a foetal position. Greg just said; “Mum, don’t give up.” I was truly amazed at his faith. I was telling him this woman was dying and he was saying; “Don’t give up!” As each day went by I thought we would be advised of Elsbeth’s death.
God – the miracle worker
After another two and a half weeks I had another chance to see Elsbeth again. (This opportunity to visit Elsbeth again was totally unexpected. God had bought about the first condition!) When the day came for us to go again to see Elsbeth, I woke feeling very sick and I was experiencing a bad pain. Because of this discomfort, I did not want to go. I just wanted to go back to bed. But when my husband said, “Do you want to go or not?” out of my mouth came the answer “yes”! When I came to Elsbeth’s room I was totally amazed to see her sitting in a chair! The nurse was feeding her lunch. The first thing the nurse said to me was; “This is a miracle lady – that I know! For her to be sitting up is a miracle. For her to be eating is a miracle.” Elsbeth was sitting there with her arms across her body. They had been that way for a long time and her nails had cut into her flesh. Her head hung right down on her chest as though it was detached. My husband said that there was something he wanted to do in town and the nurse also left the room. God had bought about the second condition!
God looks at the heart
“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.
Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
I sat on the floor at her feet, as it was the only way I could look into her face. Elsbeth was just crying and mumbling to herself. I told her that God had sent me to tell her of His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. I started to tell her this wonderful story when I was aware that she no longer was crying or mumbling. Elsbeth was looking intently at me and I could feel that she was listening. I spoke to her about separation from a Holy God because of sin and about our need for repentance, our need for a Saviour and about this Saviour that God had sent.
Elsbeth understood what I was saying to her!
After I spoke to her for quite some time, I asked her; “Do you understand?” Elsbeth replied very slowly, “Not everything.” I spoke again for about the same length of time and I said “we will pray” and she said, “I do every night.” I then prayed with Elsbeth the sinner’s prayer and I asked her if she would like to accept Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. To my amazement, she pulled her arms apart from her normally fixed position and lifted them right above her head and placed her hands together in a praying position. I knew that Elsbeth was accepting her Lord as her Saviour. God had bought about understanding and Elsbeth had responded.
The visit ended
Then a worker came along with a polisher and he came into the room with his noisy machine. Elsbeth said in annoyed voice; “This should not be allowed.” The hospital worker took some time polishing the room and then he decided to chat to me. All this time Elsbeth just sat quietly. After the hospital worker left the room, I spoke again about the promises of God in Jesus until I felt very ‘talked out’. When I stopped she again started to mumble and it was time for me to go.
Discouragement gives way to excitement
There were two other women who also had Alzheimer’s in Elsbeth’s room on that day. All the time I was there they were absolutely quiet. I hope if these other two women did not know God’s love for them that they came to know it that day. I was so excited that God had worked miracles and He had allowed me to speak to Elsbeth and share His love. I no longer felt sick. I felt I could burst from joy. I was so happy that I wanted to shout out what had happened but I couldn’t. I especially wanted to tell my son; Greg who had prayed for her and never lost faith that God is powerful beyond human comprehension. I felt the power of God’s love that day. I felt His love for Elsbeth and His power to bring about what seemed to be and what WAS humanly impossible.
God wants us all to repent
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering towards us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (1 Peter 3:9).
Although Elsbeth’s body and mind were wasting away, her spirit was present and strong as ever. “The dust will return to the earth as it was and the spirit will return to the God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
Elsbeth got stronger and they returned her back to the first hospital. She lived another 20 or more days and died peacefully in her husband’s arms.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
To God be the glory forever and ever, Amen!
The Reason (music video)