I’m really unsure just how many times I’ve heard or read this particular scripture throughout my life. Dozens? Hundreds, maybe? But, its message has never resonated more powerfully until recently. Four weeks ago my husband, Chad, began experiencing issues in his vision and after a few days we were lead to a retina specialist who diagnosed him with a rare eye disease. The doctor shared that if we’d gone to any other doctor or read about this disease online, we’d be informed that there is no cure or treatment and that he would eventually lose his sight. However, he was confident that Chad needed to start using his CPAP machine again because his sleep apnea was the root cause. The lower levels of oxygen in his body over time were causing weakened capillaries in his macular which were basically resulting in micro aneurysms. The disease is called Macular Telangiectasia, of which I still cannot pronounce correctly. But, of course, I Googled it. Sure enough, the search for information on the disease offered little to no hope. I was suddenly powerless to the “What ifs?” that seemed to flood my mind. What if this doctor is wrong? Chad was already at a place he was unable to read more than a few minutes before a headache and nausea set in. What if our new reality will one day be one in which Chad is no longer able to drive, read, cook, go fishing, recognize faces, enjoy life as we currently know it? What if, what if, what if???
I’d like to say that I handled this with perfect grace and unshakable resolve. I’d like to say that at no point did I allow fear to consume me. But, that was not reality. I was on a complete roller coaster of emotions. In the first couple of days since the diagnosis, the only thing that would dry my eyes was the reminder of the doctor’s confidence in a cure for Chad. And, while I allowed myself the gift of that assurance, I continued to remind myself that my hope is not in a doctor. My hope is not in a cure. My hope is in Jesus. No matter what. When fear tried to creep in, I had to mentally choose to grip my thoughts and say to myself, “Fix my eyes on Jesus, not my circumstances.” Jesus is my only constant. I have no control over our present or future circumstances, but I can control how I respond to them
So, during this season we have been given the gift of truly learning what it means to “walk by faith and not by sight”. We’ve chosen to replace fear with the reward of a new perspective on life. What sighted person doesn’t take their vision for granted? We literally and spiritually see differently now, just as God promised through Isaiah:
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”
Admittedly, I’d just prefer Him to go straight to His promise of turning darkness into light, and skip right over making rough places smooth. You know what it takes to smooth out rough places? Sandpaper. Very coarse, abrasive sandpaper. And, just as a carpenter labors to sand splintered wood until it’s smooth, that’s exactly what this process as felt like to my soul. Would I sign up for it? No way. Do I enjoy the pain of being sanded? Not a bit. But, am I grateful for the work He is doing in my heart? Without a doubt. We all face seasons in our lives when God will make our rough places smooth. Maybe you currently find yourself in one? Oh, dear friend, you are not alone. I understand your fear and loss of control. I relate to your overwhelming desire to crawl into a hole. You’re begging God to turn darkness into light.
- A son or daughter is making self destructive choices.
- You’re watching a loved one suffer from a disease or horrific circumstance.
- The accident blindsided you.
- Your job is on the line.
- The bills feel insurmountable.
- The cancer is back.
What would it look like if we choose to surrender to the sanding, and trust in God’s work on our hearts? He is refining us. He is drawing us closer into relationship with Him. He is transforming us to be stronger image bearers for His Son. He is training us to live open handed and open hearted. He is guiding us on our unfamiliar paths that ultimately lead to greater joy and peace. I believe if we choose to surrender to the sanding, we will understand the true gift of walking by faith and not by sight. “Dear Jesus, thank You for our seasons of sanding. We recognize they are opportunities for growth that cannot be manufactured when life is going smoothly and less stressful. Help us to build our trust in You during these times. Give us the voice to call out the enemy’s lies in our heads that tell us we are forgotten and alone, and that life will never improve. Fill our lungs when it hurts to take our next breath. Open our eyes to Your goodness like never before. We love you. Amen.” *I’m happy to report that Chad and I went to another specialist for a second opinion yesterday, and the updated images compared to the last ones show there is improvement in his disease! We are hopeful that the CPAP is working.