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Can we see our afflictions as a purposeful instrument in the hand of God to teach us?

A couple weeks ago my eyes became noticiby red. People made jokes about the bloodshot when I would walk into meetings, and while I knew something was up, I wasn’t concerned. I then became very sensitive to light, so much so that I had to wear sunglasses in the evening to endure the glare of headlights from oncoming cars. Eventually my wife persuaded me to see the doctor. I was diagnosed with conjunctivitis, given some drops, and sent on my way.

After this my eyes got worse and I was in constant pain. I posted this pic online as a goof to show people how scary I’d look preaching on Sunday. But, it still got worse. I will spare you those photos. I stayed with the drops, but yesterday the pain grew intense enough that I went to see an optometrist.

He said this wasn’t conjunctivitis, but something more serious and sent me to a specialist in town. The specialist explained that I have acute iritis. A pretty severe case. He said if I do not follow his instructions, I will go blind in my right eye. There’s a good chance for full recovery, but there’s also a good chance this will come back.

Once I was aware that things were more serious than I thought I asked for prayer from my church and friends, but from the beginning of this experience I have been meditating on a few things that I wanted to share.

But, before I do that I want to encourage others to see their afflictions as a purposeful instrument in the hand of God to teach us. The small pains and life-changing disasters are opportunities to reflect on the dangers of sin, our sin, the fragility of life and the hope of the gospel. This is not morose introspection, nor pseudo-spiritual naval gazing. I’m talking about Scriptural self-examination and divine exultation.

Over the past couple weeks, I have been viewing the affliction of my eyes as God’s good doing, and it has led me to meditate on the following truths. Here are a few notes from my journal.

1. My eyes must be turned from evil.

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.
(Ps. 101:3)

This, of course, is easier said than done. You cannot live in the world without seeing evil. But the caution here is not so much against what one might see, but what one sets their attention and interests on.

2. My eyes should be set on the God who saves.

My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
(Psalm 25:15)

There is hope in the one who knows the Lord as a saving God. To know that he is good, sovereign and my God means that my eyes can find no greater point of focus in the midst of difficulty or danger. He will rescue me.

Joe Thorn I grew up in the western suburbs of Chicago, heard the gospel for the first time when I was 17 years old, and attended a worship service for the first time that same year. After graduating from high school I was converted by the grace of God and things have never been the same. I am a graduate of Moody Bible Inst. in Chicago (where I met my wife!) and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, and the Lead Pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, IL.

More from Joe Thorn or visit Joe at http://www.joethorn.net/

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