If Your Right Eye Offend You
I have never wanted to pluck out my right eye so badly in all my life. I keep eye drops on the
shelf above my bed along with my glasses. I'm blind as a bat without my glasses... seriously...
If you stand a few feet away from me and I don't have my glasses on, I'd have trouble telling
you if you were human, much less actually identifying who you were! My eyes are bone dry at
night, and I often reach up to find the drops by feel and apply as needed Early this morning, I
missed the drops, hit my glasses, and they fell IN my eye. Not to the side, not on the nose, ON
my eyeball, and I found out after seeing the eye doctor, that I had torn my cornea.
First, can I say OUCH! I've never had an eye injury, and oh my word, is it painful! At the
doctor, they dropped a numbing solution in, and the pain relief was instant, and I swear I
thought heard the angels sing! Doc said too much numbing solution could fry my eyeballs, so I
didn't get to go home with that blessed relief. "You mean, I have to tough it out?!" I asked him.
He nodded solemnly, and said with any luck, the flap of corneal tissue would break off on its
own, otherwise he'd have to cut it. Oh Joy! Something to look forward to!
All the way home, the mantra in my head was, "If your right eye offends thee, if your right eye
offend thee..." Lord-o'-mercy. If this is what sin feels like to the spirit, I gotta take it more
James says, "Count it all joy, brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds. For the
testing of your faith produces steadfastness." (James 1:232). I have a feeling I've been set up,
A) This was this Sunday's Scripture passage in MY class that I taught...James was writing to
persecuted Jewish Jesus followers who were struggling. It ain't easy, he was saying, but
find the joy, and lean into the character development trials bring to you.
B) My word for the year that I selected way back in January was "steadfast."
Yep. Definitely "set up."
The question is, what can I learn through this trial? While my pain is nothing compared to true
suffering experienced by persecuted believers the world over, I don't want to miss what my
weird accident and injured eye can teach me.
First! Just because you can't see all the steps, it doesn't mean you just give up. I had a package
that needed put into my mailbox this morning. With my eye injured, and both eyes now
extremely sensitive to light and watering like crazy, I put on shades and a hat and trekked the
quarter-mile out my driveway. I could only see a step or two in front of me, but I knew the
destination! Added bonus, I would get some steps in, something I didn't think I'd be able to do
if my eyes wouldn't open properly. But with some squinting, deep breaths and slow pace, I
made to the end of the driveway and popped my package inside. Inch by inch, the saying goes,
it's a cinch.
I love the Rocky franchise of films, and especially the newer iteration in the Creed films. As
Rocky trains young Creed in the second movie, he reminds Adonis that victory doesn't come all
at once. It's "one step at a time, one punch at a time, one round at a time." In Scripture, God
takes his people through Process to develop the character in them to do incredible things. Moses
had to keep sheep for a while, Joseph had to be in a pit, then in prison; Peter had to deny Jesus
to remember who and whose he was; Paul was shipwrecked and beaten and left for dead.
We can allow our pain to make us bitter or better. This morning, I did my share of whining (it
really is very painful!), but I could either give up and eat some cheese with my whine, or I could
choose to fight through the pain, focusing on the destination AND that all important single step
that is right in front of me. The right choice meant a promise kept and at least one
accomplishment in a day that didn't hold much promise.
Second, closing your eyes doesn't make it better. Man o man, eye pain is not fun! And as much
as I wanted to close my injured eye and keep it closed, it caused intense pain and then the pain
doubled when I opened it up. Thing is, I need it open to work with my other weaker eye! When
the pain didn't abate, I knew it was an injury.
The Passion Translation of Proverbs 14:8 says, "For the wisdom of the wise will keep life on
the right track, while the fool only deceives himself and refuses to face reality." My husband
says, "Bad news does not improve with age." Facing reality can be difficult sometimes, but
knowing where you are, really, can be a springboard toward better.
What areas of life are you avoiding? For me, it was the truth of deteriorating health. When my
numbers indicated diabetes and high blood pressure were gonna shorten my life-or at least
diminish my quality of life as I age-I had to face reality. When my sales numbers weren't
what I wanted, I had to take a hard look at my activity. AND if I wanted things to change, I had
to change. The numbers don't lie. And spiritually, when I felt God was distant and my prayers
ineffective, I could blame, Him, or face the reality that I had neglected the relationship.
Reality check: Eye is injured. Go to the doctor. It's the only way to get better!
Third,, speaking of facing reality....Do not put off 'til tomorrow what you can do today! I made
the now regrettable decision to goof off Friday and Saturday. I didn't-and I'm making air
quotation marks now-"feel like" working on this podcast, preparing some minor tasks that
would make this week easier, batch work so that in the event of an unexpected delay, or I
wouldn't be able to work, I have things in the hopper ready to go. Hmmm. No.
James 4:13-17 says, "Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and
such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"- 14 yet you do not know what
tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then
vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." 16 As it
is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to
do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
I've never thought of procrastination as a sin. But if the presumption that I can do something
smacks of arrogance, doesn't the presumption that there'll be time enough later also be sinful?
Hmmm. "We must work the works," Jesus said, "of him who sent me while it is day; night is
coming, when no one can work." John 9:4.
Procrastination is like a credit card: it's a lot of fun until you get the bill!
Finally, trials, James said, or the "testing of our faith" produces steadfastness. Three different
words can be used here. King James says patience. NIV says perseverance. All three necessary
for a mature faith, and a mature person.
I have a friend in business who loves to say, "I don't know anybody that too cashed up!" We
could all use a little extra cash these days, right? I think the same can be said of these qualities. I
don't know anyone who has too much patience. Too much steadfastness. Too much
I chose steadfast for my word of the year mostly because of its connotation of consistency. It's a
quality I've lacked in spades over the years, and I want to cultivate it. Being consistent so I can
be counted upon to deliver. Consistent so that I'm a person of integrity. Consistant so that my
walk matches my talk. It's why, with eyes and nose dripping because of the cornea tear, I'm
pounding out words for you and for myself. This is how you learn to be consistent. By being
consistent! Especially through trials.
Perseverance, too, marks maturity. It being steadfast when it's hard. It's grit and stick-to-it-ive-
ness even when it looks like you are NOT gonna get a victory. When the chips are down, last
play of the game, and you push. Paul understood that kind of grit. He wrote, "Our light and
momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweights them all." 2
Corinthians 4:17. He kept the destination in mind and walked step by step through the hard stuff
to get to the other side.
I picture Andy DuFresne in The Shawshank Redemption, standing in the rain . Andy DuFresne,
his friend Red says, who crawled through half a mile of foul-smelling excrement and came out
smelling clean on the other side.
We all go through trials; Life throws a lot of crap at us! Jesus said in this world you will have
trouble, but I have overcome the world. Paul wrote to the Roman church, "Who shall separate
us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness,
or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
"For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
My right eye offends me today, with its torn cornea and pain. But it won't always be this way. I
can learn a lot from leaning into the pain and seeing what it can teach me about making
progress a little at a time, getting real, not procrastinating, and by developing patience,
consistency, and perseverance. How about you? Will you learn these lessons with me?
Help me consider it joy when I face trials and difficulties. Help me to lean in and learn to be
like you, all the while knowing that NOTHING can separate me from Your love. And that if I
add to my faith, virtue, and knowledge, and self-control, and steadfastness and perseverance,
they will keep me from being ineffective or unfruitful, nearsighted and blind.
And I ask for healing for my cornea. Thank you for walking with me through the pain.
In Jesus' name, Amen