My eyes have been dilated more times in the last four months than they have been in my entire life. As I sit here waiting for the ophthalmologist to come in, I think about my visit here two weeks ago. I was in the middle of writing a blog about waiting, (that you can read here), so I took particular note of what I was experiencing in that moment. I landed on “nervous”. Nervous because what was finally settling down in my left eye was now beginning to happen in my right one.
The frequency of these visits allowed me to grow used to the unpleasantries associated with them: eye drops, pressure test, vision test, more eye drops, dilating, then came the poking and probing with instruments in my eyes. Eek! As uncomfortable as these exams are, they are necessary to protect my vision.
This all began in October when something funky started going on in my left eye. Occasional flashes of light for a few weeks suddenly turned into a full-on disco party. If you’ve ever had an issue with your retina, you know what I’m talking about. If not, just imagine what it would look like if John Travolta brought all of his closest friends and fired up a disco ball right there in your eyeball!
Posterior Vitreous Detachment can go unnoticed for some, but can cause big problems for others. I was approaching the latter group. Another emergency visit to the Ophthalmologist and then to a Retinal Specialist determined that my eye was beginning to hemorrhage internally, but praise God there was no retinal tear or detachment!
Weekly visits turned into biweekly visits and then monthly. Just when I was declared out of the woods, the same symptoms began to occur in my other eye. (Are you kidding me? This was supposed to be my good eye!) Back to the Ophthalmologist I go.
So here I am again, eagerly listening to my doctor as she goes through the familiar checklist: “pressures are good, vision is good, retina looks good, macula looks good, nerve looks good”. I have heard this numerous times, but as she inspected my eye today, it was almost like I could hear God inspecting my heart at the same time regarding this trial: “trust looks good, faith looks good, hope looks good, endurance is definitely increasing”.
You see, before I was diagnosed with PVD, both of my doctors believed there was a strong possibility of a brain tumor. This was based on my symptoms and the history of having a tumor removed from near that area just months earlier. Even though the process of having a brain MRI so soon was very surreal, I knew that God was going to be just as faithful this time as He was last time.
And He was. Praise God for a clean report!
Trials are never planned and the timing is rarely convenient, but we are assured as Christians, that we will have them. Not only that, we are instructed in James 1:2-4 to “consider it joy”! When we are in the midst of a trial though, it is usually anything but “joyful”. But the joy is not found in our circumstances… it is in knowing that God is at work to make sure we are not lacking anything. Nothing. And that takes work (trials).
This trial wasn’t fun, but I knew that it was serving a purpose. Even though the frequent exams and murky vision were annoying, I did not let it steal my joy, and I knew that was the purpose of this trial. Joy is not an emotion or circumstantial… it is a fruit. If we want to bear that fruit in spite of our circumstances, we have to make sure we stay connected to the vine. ( John chapter 15 explains this). Although my physical eyes were weakening, my spiritual eyes were strengthening in the process.
As my doctor wrapped up the exam, she told me that all things considered, every thing looks great. No issues like before. “See you in four weeks”. And during the next four weeks, I will continue to tap into that vine and rest in His promises.
Romans 5:3-5 says, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (ESV) Although the last few months have been uncomfortable, I know that this “mini trial” has successfully increased my endurance.