Recently, I had cataract surgery on both eyes a week apart. After the surgery, during recovery, I could not help but hum the lines of an old popular song of the seventies by the late Johnny Nash:
“I can see clearly now the rain is gone I can see all obstacles in my way Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day.”
Like the rain that clears the atmosphere, cataract surgery can help us see our surroundings and obstacles in our way. As I recalled that hit song, my mind drifted into drawing a parallel, albeit an imperfect one, between a natural cataract and a cataract that affects our spiritual acuity. Three instructive lessons came to my mind.
First, we learn that a cataract involves gradual progression. A few years ago, when my ophthalmologist examined my eyes, he said I had the beginnings of a cataract. When I asked how bad it was, he told me, “If you think of a major cataract as a sixteen-wheeler truck, yours is like a Volkswagen Beetle.” He assured me there was nothing to be concerned about for several years.
What is a cataract? The eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris and pupil, becomes cloudy over time due to age, sun exposure, and accumulation of protein clumps. When that happens, the lens loses its ability to focus the image of what the eye sees on the retina, which is at the back of the eye. The result: objects look blurry, and one may feel like looking through a dirty window.
Just as a natural cataract, spiritual cataract, or opacity toward God, is a gradual process that takes place slowly, subtly, and unaware. The writer of the Hebrews compares this gradual sliding toward spiritual blindness to a ship that is drifting slowly from the safety of the harbor (Heb. 2:1). Several factors contribute to a spiritual cataract. These include, among others, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life (1 John 2:16), hatred for a fellow Christian (1 John 2:11), the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for material things (Mark 4:19).
When spiritual cataract sets in and the eyes of our understanding become blurry, we fail to see the hope of our calling (Eph. 1:18) and who we are in Christ. The clouding of our spiritual eyes disables us from seeing the wondrous things in God’s Word (Ps. 119:18) or focusing on the things of God (Ps. 141:8; Isa. 38:14). For followers of Christ, spiritual cataract is tantamount to becoming blind to the purpose for which God took them out of the darkness into the marvelous light of Christ.
Second, we learn that a cataract requires radical treatment. A surgeon has to remove the natural lens and replace it with a clear synthetic lens. There are no over-the-counter medicines or ointments for treating a cataract. It is no different when it comes to a spiritual cataract. The cure is radical intervention by the divine surgeon. He must put into us a new heart and spirit (Ezek. 36:26). The Bible says God gives us the heart to perceive and eyes to see (Deut. 29:4). The psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things from Your Law” (Ps. 119:18 NKJV). The Bible teaches, “The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord raises those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous” (Ps. 146:18 NKJV). Jesus said that one of His messianic missions was to give sight to the blind (Luke 4:18). Only God can enlighten the eyes of our understanding. He is the one who can transform us by renewing our minds so that we may know and do what is good and pleasing to God.
Finally, we learn that a cataract-free eye needs additional adjustments. Even with a new and clear lens implanted, the vision needs to be adjusted and fine-tuned for astigmatism (uneven curvature of the eye’s cornea or lens) with a pair of prescription glasses to read a book and also see objects clearly at a distance. Our spiritual vision requires regular adjustments by the Word of God, which serves as our “prescription glasses” to keep us focused on God. To use the words of a beautiful hymn, we need God’s Word “like a fetter, [to] bind my wandering heart to Thee: Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.” The Word of God is a lamp to our feet and light to our path (Ps. 19:105). It gives insight into living (Ps. 19:8). God’s Word helps us to see the sins lurking in our hearts (Ps. 19:12), keeps us from deliberate sins, and warns us of the obstacles in our way.
How are your spiritual eyes? Perhaps they may be getting dim and distorting your vision of God and His plan for your life. If so, you need a spiritual cataract surgery that God in Christ alone can do. Jesus said, “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is unhealthy, your body is filled with darkness” (Luke 11:34 NLT). Jesus is the light of life who can keep you from walking in darkness (John 8:12). Do you know this Jesus as your light? If not, I pray that God, in His grace, will draw you to Christ today. If the Spirit of God is tugging your heart, come to Christ, praying, “Thou must save and Thou alone. In my hand, no price I bring; simply to the cross I cling.”