In February of 2014, I woke up one morning and couldn’t see very well. I later came to learn that I had gone 70% blind in my left eye.
My world changed suddenly.
For days, I couldn’t get medical attention because ophthalmologists in our region didn’t have available time to see a new patient – even one with an urgent problem. We then considered going out of state to get help – any help.
Finally, an optometrist in Tulsa agreed to check out my situation. My left optic nerve was swollen “off the charts,” they said. It was in the process of dying due to a lack of blood supply. They didn’t know what was causing it.
For some reason, they couldn’t get me in to see the specialist who worked in the same practice and office building just a few doors down and was familiar with the realm where my problem was centered: he was a diabetic eye specialist.
Instead, they sent me on a wild ride of medical tests at the local hospitals including an MRI, a neurologist, and a lumbar puncture (spinal tap).
At the end of all of those procedures and multiple visual field tests, I had none of the most-dreaded problems that were suspected to be causing my partial blindness (like multiple sclerosis or a brain tumor), and yet I was still partially blind.
And even now, my vision continues to slowly weaken. My eyeglasses prescriptions can’t keep up with my declining vision. I now preach using electronic notes on a tablet with ever-increasing fonts.
All of this background is to say that God has full control of my vision. God has lovingly ordained this trial for my good and for the good of my family.
Like Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:1-10), I have prayed multiple times that the Lord would remove this thorn and restore my sight. I know He is able to do so. But I also know that He has multiple purposes in all of our afflictions that will be our resounding themes of glory in the age to come.
But for now we live in this valley of the shadow of death; and yet, we may fear no evil (at least, no ultimate evil) for the Lord Himself is with us. He is present in our afflictions. He is with us in our darkness and disabilities.
The purposes of Christ for His people are always exceedingly good. Yet in this life, they are seldom easy to bear or appealing to our flesh.
And that’s the point… or that’s at least one of the points. You and I were not made to live forever in this fallen present world.
We were created by God to live with Him forever in a new world without sin, without sickness, and without death. No more fears, no more losses, and no more tears.
The trials of this present life serve to make us homesick for the life to come.
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day.
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see
O Thou, who changest not, abide with me!
Rejoice, believer! God is on His throne and the best is yet to come!