Recently I (Ray) had cataract surgery done to my right eye. No problem with that. It all went well. However, one of the after effects has been that when I’m reading a newspaper or looking at anything closer than about 18 inches from my face, I have double vision. Which makes it difficult to read. This has been really annoying over the past few weeks. I began thinking that this was a hopeless situation. I would have to live with this for the rest of my life. However, last week I went to my eye doctor for a followup visit and he assured me that this problem was not unusual, and that for the most part it would be corrected with the new glasses I would have in a few weeks. That sounded good, but it also sounded like I would have to lve with this to at least some extent. That still annoyed me. But a few days later I saw something that told me that instead of complaining about this relatively minor problem, I should have been thanking God that I could see at all. What I saw was an article in In Touch magazine about an American soldier, Captain Scotty Smiley, who had lost his eyesight in a bomb explosion while on duty in Iraq in 2005. When I read the inroductory comment at the top of the page, I thought to myself- “that’s impossible”. By the time I finished the article I was thinking to myself “Where there is hope, the impossible can be possible”
According to the article, his initial response to the suggestion that he pray for healing was “I don’t want to pray. I don’t believe in God”. However, his wife prayed that he would receive God again. Over the next few years, that prayer was answered. He regained his belief and faith in God.
He took comfort in what the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans (Chapter 8, vs.18) “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us”. He came to believe that God had a purpose for his life, which would be fulfilled through his blindness and the suffering that went with it. Along with his belief and faith in God, came hope that God’s plan for him would be fulfilled. With the help of family and friends, he found that he was able to do all kinds of things that most of us would believe that a totally blind person cannot possibly do. Such things as mountain climbing, skiing, surfing and sky-diving. But there was more to come.
Two years after he was blinded he enrolled in Duke University and earned an MBA. That might be difficult but not totally impossible for a blind person. However, after college he did what the opening comment of the article referred to, which I thought was absolutely impossible.
After getting his degree he returned to the U.S.Military Academy at West Point to teach. Later, he was promoted and became the company commander of the Army unit which he still serves and leads today. He is the first blind active duty commander in the U.S.Army. Now that sounded impossible to me. But today, six years after he said he didn’t want to pray because he no longer believed in God, he says “If I can be used for God’s greater good, I have to be fine with the way things are”.
Captain Smiley has written a book about all this, approriately entitled, Hope Unseen. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m going to order a copy. I’m sure it will help me to stop complaining the next time I experience some difficulty in my life – like “double vision” . It will remind me that no matter how bad things are, God is always there, offering hope for a future filled with meaning, purpose, and love, not just for ourselves, but for others. Hope is believing the impossible is possible. Believe it.
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