After what seemed like an agonizingly long time, my eye doctor said, “You have a problem pastor. You need to get it fixed urgently.” I sat there, shocked, hardly able to listen, as he explained with much concern that the retina on my left eye had detached. (To make matters worse, there were small holes (tears) on the retina of my right eye as well).
”No! This can’t be true! Not my eyes,” I thought, as he kept talking. But, yes, this was really happening to me. My thoughts flashed back to a persistent uneasiness I had felt for some time with my vision. My vision had been nearly perfect following cataract surgery a few years earlier. I had even unceremoniously disposed of the thick spectacles that had been a part of my appearance for almost my entire life! Now, this!
The morning had started great! We were content with life, and God was blessing our ministry with encouraging results. It was my day off and I was looking forward to spending some quality time with my family. That night was a long-awaited family dinner.
None of us expected our world would be turned upside down in a few short hours.
A few hours into the day, while waiting to be served at the bank, the uncomfortable feeling that had persisted with my vision seemed more prominent. Better check this out, I thought, closing my right eye. To my horror, I noticed a black shadow covering almost the entire vision of my left eye. Consoling myself that it was probably a temporary problem that would soon sort itself out, I repeated the procedure a few times over, with the same result. This doesn’t look good.
On reaching home, I looked at my wife through my left eye, hoping things had changed, but no, the black shadow still blotted out nearly everything. Anxiety began to overpower us as I tried to explain what I was experiencing to her. We were fortunate enough to get a consultation with my eye doctor that evening.
Now, here I was, trying to process my doctor’s troubling diagnosis: the retina on my left eye had collapsed. I should consult an eye surgeon immediately.
The eye surgeon confirmed the diagnosis and surgery was scheduled for a week later. I would need laser treatment first, to stabilize the small retinal tears on my other eye. Our relaxing family evening had not gone according to plan.
I felt alone as I traveled back home at midnight in a trishaw (a popular mode of transport in Sri Lanka). Dismal thoughts ran through my mind. Why me? How could this happen? Wasn’t I serving God? What if the surgery failed? What if I were to lose my vision completely at some point? So many questions, so few answers. “Darling, it’s serious,” I exclaimed to my wife, Regina, as I reached home. She listened with empathy, gently held my hand and said, “The Lord will help us. Let’s trust Him.” We committed to trust Jesus completely.
Even though many discouraging moments followed, the unfailing presence of Jesus, the promises of God’s Word, the prayers of friends, and my wife’s constant encouragement and love kept me hopeful during those difficult times. But to be honest, through it all a persistent fear prickled my mind—what if the surgery fails?
The day before the surgery was an anxious one as I kept praying for courage and strength. As I sat praying, the hymn titled “In Christ Alone” began to play on the computer. I had sung that hymn many times before – but in what I believe was a pivotal moment ordained by God, the lyrics; especially the following lines, hit me like a bullet.
“From life’s first cry to final breath/ Jesus commands my destiny”
As those powerful lyrics circled my mind, faith began to rise, and a deep assurance came over me that Jesus alone ‘commands my destiny.’ There was renewed confidence in Christ’s care for me.
Awake throughout the complicated surgery, I silently kept giving thanks to Jesus, knowing my future was entirely in His hands. His peace-giving presence was so strong that I almost fell asleep!
The following morning as the protective bandage over my eye was removed, a sense of great relief surged through me. I could see clearly!
Today, many years later, other than a slight distortion, the vision on my eye is holding. I no longer take my vision, or anything in life, for granted. I am thankful for the moments I get to see my wife and children, as well as the amazing colors of God’s creation. I have also learned to feel more deeply for the struggles of people who battle visual handicaps, and to pray for them.
Looking back, I thank God for His faithfulness through a serious ordeal. His unfailing promises, my wife’s encouragement, the prayers of friends, the skill of the surgeon, and the lyrics of a worship song, carried me through the unexpected crisis. I learned that faith is strengthened, and Christ is glorified when we trust Him through life’s challenges.
“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7).
Though future challenges may come, I know one thing for certain. My hope will always be, “In Christ Alone”.