“MARK! WATCH OUT!”
My husband jerked the steering wheel, but our car still grazed the parked motorcycle. It was the second minor driving accident in two days.
Being the calm, soothing wife that I am, I asked, “What is WRONG with you? Just because everyone else here in Asia seems to drive crazy doesn’t mean that you can. Can’t you SEE????”
His negative answer surprised me. “Not really. I seem to be losing my peripheral vision.”
Several doctor visits later, we received the diagnosis: Keratoconus, degeneration of the cornea. We learned that although most keratoconus patients can have vision restored with rigid contacts, Mark’s eye couldn’t hold a contact lens.
His clear cornea tissue was so thin that his eye was pushing itself outward from the inside. His right eye was shaped more like a football than an orb.
As you might expect, it isn’t easy to balance a convex lens on a cone-shaped cornea. Every time the optometrist fitting a contact lens on him, Mark’s eye spit it across the room.
“So, what are our options?” we queried.
“Cornea transplant,” was the Taiwanese doctor’s shocking reply. Then he continued, “You probably don’t want to have it done in Asia, as organ donation is rare. As you know, Buddhists believe in reincarnation, and most don’t want to go into the next life, missing a vital organ. I do perform some transplants, but I will be frank. The corneas that we receive are mostly ‘seconds’ from the states. They aren’t the best quality.”
Thus began our 18-month journey. We packed up our Taichung apartment, flew back to Texas, and added Mark’s name on a cornea waiting list. We sobered to realize that someone must pass away to harvest a transplanted organ.
Even after Mark’s transplant, there were complications. The mother tissue didn’t take kindly to the foreign cornea. For 16 months, Mark was miserable as his eye attempted to reject the transplant. It was a long and dark time—both literally (with 15-watt bulbs in every socket) and emotionally.
Yet, as we walked together through the valley of shadows, we discovered something that the Psalmist learned thousands of years prior: It’s in the valley that our Shepherd walks the closest.
Go back with me to Psalm 23. When David begins his prose, he speaks of his Shepherd in the third person.
“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”
But when his trek in the shadows begins, he no longer speaks about the Lord, but directly to Him.
“You are with me.”
There is a big difference in talking about someone and talking directly to him. Walking through the shadows stimulates not only our fear but also the desire to know the One Who has the power of light. We are not to look for hope in our situation, but in the One Who is there with us. When His Presence satisfies, even the darkest shadows hold no fear.
“Father, here in my weakness, reveal Yourself personally. Rivet my eyes upon Your reality, no matter how dark my experience. I no longer hope for my situation to change, but I hope solely in You. Grant me vision to see You daily and the strength to do another day because whether or not I see you clearly, You are with me.”