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A while back I had an occasion to go to the Veteran’s Hospital in Dallas.
I was with my good friend Olyn; we were waiting for a prescription to be filled. While we were waiting I noticed a blind man working his way down the massive hall, finding an empty chair and sitting down.
I was amazed. I was in awe of his ability to maneuver in such a huge building complex. After some procrastination, I worked up the courage to go over and talk to him; something was pulling and pushing me to go over and talk to him. Why was I fearful? Did I think he was going to bite?
What is sad is that he never sees the compassion people have for him. He doesn’t see the nods of recognition when he comes into a room; he doesn’t see our smiles. But somehow I know in his heart, he sees better than most.
I approached him and introduced myself. He seemed pleased to have some company. I told him that I was in awe of his ability to get around. I told him that even though I can see, I was intimidated by the size of the complex. Even with the ability to read signs, I still got lost; it takes a lot of skill to navigate your way through one of the largest hospitals in the country.
I cannot imagine what it would be like to be so surrounded by people and yet be so all-alone – literally in the dark.
He just smiled and laughed and said, after a long moments pause, “in the military there is a saying, ‘you go to war with what you have.’”
As it worked out he had some vision in his eyes. He wore thick-thick glasses and had to use white cane to get around. He said he could pick up blocks of light, but he was definitely legally blind.
This is where the story gets interesting! When you think of it, EVERY step he takes is a step of faith, blind faith at that. Think of the courage he must have, in darkness to do his morning routine, catch a bus, travel in darkness to a giant hospital complex, get off the bus and begin his journey through obstacles and hurdles that we cannot imagine. I cannot even button the buttons of my shirt cuffs by myself! What an inner strength he must have.
For me the most impressive, most inspiring thing was how thankful he was for what he had.
Be joyful always; pray continually;
give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
He did not lament on what he had lost; his vision.
He did not worry about what was to happen in the future.
He gave thanks for what he has now.
He was truly grateful.
He truly gave thanks in all circumstances!
I cannot imagine the courage required just to wake up, make the journey to the hospital if I were blind, in the dark, and by myself.
I’ve never seen anything like it! Most of us, (myself included) would be complaining of what an injustice it was for him to have lost his vision. I know that I would have been tempted to be a whiner and a complainer – But he only gave thanks!
He admitted that in the future that there was great probability that he would lose entirely the vision that he had. But again he was thankful for what he had. He knew that complete total blindness would be difficult, but he knew he would survive; for God is preparing him for that eventual time. And again he was thankful!
I have never seen someone who was so thankful for what to me seemed to be very little. My eyesight I take for granted; it’s just always there. He on the other hand was thankful for little blotches of light.
I would have been worried about the future; very worried! If I were going blind I believe I would come to an impasse. Would fear completely overtake me, would I just give up and fall into the depths of despair? Would depression make my life unmanageable and unlivable? What did this man do? He gave thanks for all of the blessings, which were given to him.
This man was not trapped in a world of what he couldn’t do. He was not in despair over events, which he could not control, things that were out of his hands. What did he do? He gave thanks!
Our brief conversation has made a big impact on me. I look at this man and I wonder which one of us is truly blind; which one of us is in the dark; which one of us is lost. I pray to see life as clearly as he does.
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him"
1 Corinthians 2:9