I needed eye surgery recently. The surgery was an unanticipated event to correct a problem that I had never heard of. I learned that the sudden distortion that was affecting my ability to read represented what is known as a macular pucker.
Fortunately, a macular pucker can be treated. A delicate, sophisticated surgical procedure removes the offending vitreous and scar tissue, reducing the stress on the macula and offering some level of improved vision. And although the improvement can take as long as three months to be realized, I am most grateful to report that my ability to read fine print was largely restored a week after the surgery.
It has occurred to me that the phenomenon known as a macular pucker in the physiological realm has something to teach us about the spiritual realm. As sinners in a sinful world, we sustain a good bit of internal damage to our hearts and spirits. Some of this damage is of our own doing; a good bit of it is inflicted upon us by other sinners. On this side of God’s kingdom, it is unavoidable.
Sometimes, the damage we sustain is so painful that we avoid dealing with it, denying or minimizing the pain. We “let it go” and move on without genuinely resolving the issue. Over time, emotional and spiritual scar tissue can develop. And then, our spiritual vision—our perspective—can become distorted. We practice Christianity more to meet expectations than to express a vibrant, living relationship with Almighty God. We react negatively to people and events that remind us of past pain as we misinterpret current events according to the past. Our distorted “sight” handicaps us, and we struggle to give and receive love.
But the Gospel is Good News indeed! Jesus came to redeem us—to take our sin and our pain and use those very negative issues to draw us to Him. He takes that sin and pain upon Himself and offers us freedom and healing. By the power of the Holy Spirit, He removes our spiritual and emotional scar tissue. But our redemption—and the restoration of our spiritual sight--requires our participation: we must practice confession, repentance, and forgiveness. And then our spiritual vision can be restored! We are able to approach others with open hearts and know peace and joy as we minister in the name of Christ.
To be sure, God’s work in us can be intimidating, not unlike my eye surgery. Often, we are blind to our distorted perspective, and we need the help of a faithful brother or sister to expose it. And once we recognize that the scars of this life have twisted us away from God and away from others, we are required to acknowledge a need that we cannot meet on our own. It is our Lord who covers our sin and redeems our pain even as we confess, repent, and forgive. And just as I needed prayer support to manage the stress of my surgery, we need the patience, encouragement, and unconditional love of our brothers and sisters to support us as we allow the Great Physician to do His work in us.