In a moment his vision was gone. It took with it his business and livelihood, his ability to read and his plans for the future but it could not take away his hope.
Fred has always been a decent, hard-working, God-loving family man. Everything he had he worked for. He started his own painting business within a few years of graduating high school. He had his priorities in order, saving enough money to buy a home by the time he was 22 years old. He married young and he and his wife welcomed three sons before they were 35. Life was good.
He worked alone, he liked it better that way. He could have made more money if he had hired employees and expanded the business but he decided early on that it was easier and better if he did the work on his own. He loved his work and took pride in making homes look their best. My office was one of the last jobs Fred did before losing his sight. He picked the color scheme and painted it himself. It is gorgeous.
He had been born with one eye significantly weaker than the other, so much so that his vision was monocular. When his dominant eye had the equivalent of a stroke the weak eye was unable to help. In a moment his vision was reduced to colors and shapes. He cannot recognize faces well (until they are within about five feet) so the beauty of his wife’s smile is only appreciated up close. He cannot drive and cannot paint any longer. The hardworking man is now permanently disabled.
He is disabled but he is not despairing. Fred is a man of deep faith, a man who believes that this life is not all there is, a man who believes that the eternity that awaits matters infinitely more than the temporary struggles, pains and challenges earthly life brings.
Fred’s faith has truly shined through the difficulties of the last few months. He and his family shed many tears and shared intense moments of grief as they adjusted to the new realities they face. There was sadness as he hopefully sought other medical opinions that confirmed the permanent vision loss and as he closed down his business and applied for permanent disability.
I ran into Fred and his wife recently while out to lunch with the family. He was smiling and upbeat, more concerned with my knee arthritis than he was with his ongoing struggles. When I asked how they were doing smiles came to their faces. They were in the final stages of starting new careers working as chaplains for local hospitals and community groups! Fred expressed hope and confidence that sharing his story would encourage others who were facing difficult circumstances. It is his greatest wish that he would be able to share with others how the hope for eternity brought by his Christian faith could be their hope as well.
As we talked I was encouraged. Our discussion reminded me how important it is to focus on our ultimate destination and not on the detours and difficulties of the journey and how important it is to remind others of this hope. When all is said and done, when we stand and give account to our creator for our lives, it is not our wealth and accolades that will matter. It will be our faith and our faithfulness that will determine our destiny. By these measures Fred is doing well indeed.
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