Jose was in an awful situation. He had been diagnosed with leprosy several years before. Because leprosy targets and disables the “feeling” sensors in the body, Jose’s eyes were getting dried out without him knowing. He didn’t know he needed to blink and the dryness along with glaucoma and cataracts soon robbed him of his eyesight. Unfortunately, his leprosy was also resistant to the usual treatment, so his doctor decided to try a new drug which unfortunately gave him a rare allergic reaction that left him deaf as well. He was completely cut off from the world around him. Before he lost hearing, Paul’s wife Margaret told him that she could operate on his eyes and restore some vision, but she couldn’t do this until the inflammation from a recent eye infection went down. In the meantime, Jose was tortured by loneliness. He had no sense of day or night so he would just sit in a fetal position on a hospital bed waiting for sleep to come. After he slept, he would wake up disoriented and frustrated, unable to remember where he was or even care. He would just slump back into the fetal position again. Seeing his isolation was heartbreaking, but no one could figure out what to do (Brand and Yancey).
Margaret visited them faithfully, trying to offer what comfort she could even though he had no sense that she was there. Finally, the day for the surgery arrived. He was carefully laid on a stretcher where he stayed while they operated for two hours. He had no comprehension of what was happening as they carefully bandaged his eyes and sent him back to his room. Margaret slowly removed the bandages a few days later. Jose may have had a vague sense of someone trying to help, but he was basically clueless as the first ray of light touched his retinas. As he squinted, then blinked his one good eye began to make out the forms and then details of the medical personnel around him. Then his haggard, furrowed face suddenly broke into a radiant, toothless grin (Brand and Yancey). He could see! His eye broke through that awful night and basked in the glorious light. Compared to the earlier darkness, connecting with those around him must have seemed like heaven itself.
Friends, sometimes we can get boxed in by circumstances, like life is giving us one lash after another and we can’t see beyond the suffering. Sometimes we may feel like Jose; we may not be blind and deaf, but our joy is often squelched because the present hardships seem overwhelming. But even when our present seems maddening friends, we can listen to Jesus’ story Jesus shares in Revelation 1 and 2: “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death….Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer….Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” (Revelation 1:17, 18; 2:9-11) We can look forward to a great restoration someday too. Take the story of our Great Mentor seriously and retell it often. Find new ways of retelling it—sharing makes the story sink deeper. Make it the theme of your life and you’ll see the clouds slowly start to part.
Brand, Paul and Philip Yancey. “Members of the Body: Reflections of Dr. Paul Brand.” Biologos. 12 February 2020. Accessed October 19, 2020. Online. https://biologos.org/articles/members-of-the-body-reflections-of-dr-paul-brand