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  • Writer's pictureBrittney Switala

Waiting to Praise: When the Miracle Doesn’t Come

[Jesus] took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

Mark 8:23-25

Every middle school English student knows how a story is supposed to go. The action climbs to a climax. The action falls and there’s a resolution. A reader cannot emotionally handle continual dissonance.

The same is true of a church testimony. Someone talks about how they’ve gone through a difficult time and it is given that the difficult time has ended. Since it is over now is the time to share a “Hallelujah” in front of the church.

This is not that story.

August 26th, 2012 was a perfect day. We decided to enjoy the weather by grabbing some ice cream and going to the park.

If only we had picked a different park.

If only we hadn’t sat on that bench.

If only…

One of my children had a stick. The swinging bench and swinging stick met in a bizarre sort of way to ricochet the stick as a projectile into my husband Andrew’s eye.

Tears and liquid flowed from his eye. I slammed into caregiver mode and drove to urgent care. I hadn’t filled out all the paperwork when the nurse said, “Take him to Wake Med.”

Walking toward the car Andrew broke down, “She asked me to look at the eye chart and I couldn’t see anything. I’m blind.”

I tried to comfort him and two teary children who were both absorbing blame.

“If I hadn’t picked up the stick.”

“Well if only I hadn’t swung it…”

At the emergency room Andrew was a special code, whatever the one is they reserve for gunshot wounds and loss of limbs. We got right in and he was examined. The first doctor gave us good news, but wanted a second opinion from the optometrist on call. At midnight asked, “When did you eat last? We need to do surgery first thing in the morning.”

He would lose the eye without surgery.

A sweet couple from our church arrived at the hospital and loved on our children in the waiting room and brought them home to sleep. I left at my husband’s urging, though it still haunts me. Him alone with his thoughts, sleepless and waiting.

The first surgery saved the eye. We are now five surgeries later, or is it six? At night I’ll still sometimes catch Andrew closing his left eye staring at the ceiling, straining to see if the ceiling fan or pictures on the wall look any different today than they did yesterday. Some days are better than others. The daily eye drops are now effortless.

To some extent it has changed where we go and when, how many lights are on in the room, where we sit at the kitchen table, and who drives the car. Florescent lights are painful. He copes with light sensitivity and headache pain on a daily basis.

Right after the injury we were encouraged to trust God for the miracle. We are stuck somewhat at the stage of the “trees walking around.”

It’s difficult to know how to respond to people who still ask how his eye is doing and to continue to say, “No change.”

Perhaps we look at “the story” wrong with a clear beginning middle and end. Perhaps the resolution is in acceptance of the climax without a fix. Praise during. Praise in spite of.

Today I can praise the Lord for a husband who has high pain tolerance. I praise God for Drew’s emergency room optometrist who just happened to have been a doctor who wrote the textbook (literally) on this procedure. I am thankful Drew is has once again become a confident driver who compensates incredibly well. I am thankful for our pastor and church family who rallied around us during our time of need. I am thankful for family members who spent time with our children and cared for Drew.

Drew is not strong. I am not strong. I never want anyone to say, “Wow, those are strong people.” We are weak, but Jesus Christ is strong and He is seeing us through. It still hurts thinking about what has been lost. I get angry and question God sometimes. Sometimes we don’t know what to say when people ask, “What is God teaching you?” I don’t get it, but I choose to trust Him.


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