“What seemed like darkness and hopelessness on the outside, God was working to bring me into the lives of those who would care for my eyes like no one ever has.” Erin Burkhardt

 

One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see! (John 9:25b)

FROM BLIND TO BLESSED

 

Several months ago, severe eye pain landed me in the emergency room, eventually leading me to specialists who subjected me to one of my biggest fears: being Back to Blind.

As that reality sank in, my heart grieved and I begged God for the strength to endure whatever my future might be. It’s incredible for me to testify that, even in the midst of heartbreak and pain, God can fill you with peace – a lasting calm and grounding even in all the emotions that come along with loss. To lose one of my greatest senses was devastating. The fear of the unknown overwhelming, but even in the hardest moments, I knew God hadn’t left me and that there was purpose and hope.

Medical care is a gift. Every country has a different system with its own strengths and weaknesses including cost, speed, resources, and availability. While I am incredibly grateful for Canada’s healthcare, it is not perfect. Things take a considerable amount of time and sometimes people slip between the cracks. You have to be a good advocate for your health and be proactive in your care. Getting doctors to communicate effectively and work together for answers can also be an exhausting process, but I was reminded that even medical logistics are no match for God.

FROM BLIND TO BLESSED: JUST THE RIGHT DOCTOR

 

The day I was brought back to being blind turned out to be a day of incredible blessing. Stuck in an ER for hours with no eye specialist in the hospital? A blessing! Being sent across town in the evening to a grumpy doctor who was forced to see you on short notice? Another blessing! Told to remove my contact lenses and be forced into blindness? A blessing through and though! “How so?” you may ask.

In that ER, with the regular eye doctor away, I was forced to see someone else. That someone else, though a tad edgy from just being in surgery, happened to be THE specialist for my particular problem. His catching the problem and prescribing my eyes much-needed rest ended up being one of the best blessings of all. He saved my vision from possibly permanent damage for the rest of my life.

On that day, all I knew was devastation and pain. I was stripped of sight and given a bleak outlook. I was overwhelmed and beyond discouraged. However, through what seemed like darkness and hopelessness on the outside, God was working to bring me into the lives of those who would care for my eyes like no one ever has.

FROM BLIND TO BLESSED: TWO AMAZING DOCTORS

 

The doctor (who ended up being a really nice guy), saw me every single week and prescribed drop after drop to try to heal my eye. We also discussed options including surgery and outcomes. He learned my complicated history quickly. (In fact, he had even studied under one of my previous childhood specialists!). He did everything in his power to help me, including sending me to someone who has been essential in my eye journey: another doctor who truly, deeply cared, and wasn’t afraid of a challenge! It turns out they were friends and, as ophthalmologist and optometrist, they worked together to give me as much sight as possible and to preserve my sight for as long as possible.

For months, I went back and forth between the two with small steps of improvement. Neither promised me a miracle but both gave me everything they had, and as I was starting to accept my visual limits, the possibility of seeing significantly more began to grow. Technology today is amazing and great advancements have been made since I was an infant. With a skilled team and two friends putting their heads together, a plan was put in place. It wasn’t a cure or an end-all solution and it took several weeks of adjustments. At each visit, I tried not to get my hopes up, but it was always hard when I walked out empty-handed …

…. until January, 2021.

The New Year brought a very special gift to me. I received a genuine miracle.

 

FROM BLIND TO BLESSED: A SPECIAL ONE-OF-A-KIND LENS

 

It came in a small white and blue case, in the shape of a tiny round piece of hard plastic. No bigger than the tip of your finger, this specially-made lens gave me one of God’s greatest gifts: it gave me my sight. Many people have contact lenses and they are normally no big deal, but suffice it to say that this was a big deal. After several surgeries removing parts of my eyes, installing hardware, and leaving behind a degenerative eye disease, being fitted with a one-of-a-kind lens to restore almost complete vision left me at a loss for words – and it didn’t end there.

As I walked in the door of my house, the tears poured down my face instantly . For the first time in months (and what I thought was forever), I saw with complete clarity the huge smiles and gleaming blue eyes of my beautiful little boys. I grabbed my family, kissed my husband and we collapsed then and there in a puddle of tears, laughs, and prayers. We marveled at this incredible journey and praised God for every single step along the way.

 

FROM BLIND TO BLESSED: INCREDIBLE BLESSINGS FROM GOD

 

We are thankful for the doctors who cared enough to take my sight in order to preserve it; we are thankful for their perseverance and humility. I am grateful for growth in my dependence on God and His strength instead of my own. I am thankful for the friendships I have made with these medical professionals, and I am so grateful for the privilege of seeing them rejoice alongside me.

Consequently, I have been able to share my story with loved ones, my church, and the world through Chronic Joy. I didn’t receive just one miracle on that very special day; I received a dozen all along the way. What I thought was darkness, God revealed as light. What I accepted as limits was actually preserving freedom. Yes, what I thought was a terrible burden ended up being an incredible blessing.

I may have been back to blind, but now I realize that I was blind to be blessed.

Erin Burkhardt

Erin Burkhardt

Chronic Joy® Content Writer and Prayer Team Member

Erin is a grateful follower of Jesus, navigating the different stages of life through the eyes of chronic illness. She has a passion for empowering others by encouraging them to trust God in even the most difficult of circumstances. Erin and her husband (along with their two young boys) are purposeful and passionate in living out their faith and loving their neighbors. Her other passions include freelance writing, loom knitting, and fishing!

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