Better than 20/20

As a mom, there’s no hurt like the hurt you feel when your child experiences pain, disappointment, tragedy, loss…I can’t explain how it tore me up to hear the ophthalmologist tell my son, Elijah, that his grade had gone up to 400/425 — 400 for the left eye and 425 for the right eye. It wasn’t so much about the grade, although I was shocked that it had progressed to that degree since his last eye check-up at 7 years old. It was more of the disappointment I saw in his face and the sadness he felt when he heard the news.

The reality is that his condition is genetically inherited. I first discovered he was near-sighted when he was about 6 years old. He couldn’t read a billboard that was very visible to me. So it occurred to me back then that something was wrong with his eyes. Edric has glasses but his grade isn’t too bad. I am still 20/20. So Elijah probably got it from my dad who is also near-sighted.

When Elijah was 7, his grade was already over 200. But we thought it would stay that way for a while. He’s just 9 now. I dread to think of what his grade will progress to by the time he is 13. According to the ophthalmologist, his eyesight is going to get worse (whether he wears glasses or not) and there is really nothing that can be done, except changing his eyeglasses every year. By 19 or 20, when he stops growing, he can have laser surgery for his eyes. (Praise God for modern technology.)

After the verdict about his eyes at the doctor’s clinic, I watched Elijah settle in a corner as he tried to remain composed. But I know my son. This was difficult for him. He was not okay. His eyes were getting red and watery and he didn’t want to make eye contact. I pulled him close and asked if he wanted to talk about it. He replied, “In private.”

Okay, I understood. The doctor went on to say that he may “have a hard time in school.” (I guess he meant reading stuff off a black board.) We told him that Elijah was a homeschooled kid. (Another blessing.)

Edric helped him pick out new glasses, which we will pick up on Saturday. And we both took him out to lunch to give him attention. Elijah is very much a time person so he opens up when you share a meal with him, when you walk together, or when you are sitting down next to him reading or discussing a book. Over lunch, he began to explain his feelings. He shared how disappointed he was because God had not answered his prayer. His prayer has been that God would make his eyes better. The other thing he was concerned about was going blind. My poor son was afraid that he would completely lose his eyesight. We both hugged him and assured him that God loved him and that we loved him – that we were going to do our best to take care of him no matter what.

Elijah loved the Persian food we had for lunch. His stomach was satisfied and he enjoyed our company. It was an opportune moment to help him process how he was feeling. Edric shared with him that God has a plan for everything. He reminded Elijah that if he wanted to, God could easily cure his eyes, but he hasn’t. We have to trust him. He reminded Elijah that when we pray for something and God doesn’t answer our prayer, he has a purpose.

There was another instance like this in the past when Elijah was also disappointed with God. Five years ago, Elijah prayed very hard to have a baby sister. During the ultra sound, he was allowed to come in to watch the sonologist. With big faith and confidence in God, he couldn’t wait to hear her say that we were having a girl. But the sonologist announced that we were having a boy – our third son (Titus). Elijah couldn’t contain himself. He burst into tears. “I prayed, Daddy! How come God didn’t answer my prayer?”

I wasn’t in any state to comfort him. Seeing him so wrecked about the news made me feel like crying, too. I was excited to have another boy but I feared for Elijah’s tender faith. Edric took him outside of the room and wonderfully explained to him that God always has a good plan. Eventually, our little Elijah understood what this meant and he embraced Titus as his youngest brother. Three years later, God gave us Tiana. Everything worked out according to God’s time-table.

Yesterday, Elijah was once again at a crucial point in his faith journey. As he wrestled with his disappointment with God, he was emotionally vulnerable to doubts about God’s goodness. His outlook on the future was also bleak. God had to make Elijah recognize that he had to choose to trust in him and thank him for this unchangeable in his life.

After lunch, I reaffirmed what Edric shared with Elijah. All of us go through difficulty and trials. No one is exempt. But if our perspective is right, then our thinking is right, and our behavior will also be right. But if we have the wrong perspective, our thinking will be wrong, and our behavior will be affected by wrong thinking… For example, if our perspective on God is that he is good and that he loves us then we can believe that he has a plan and purpose for our lives. And as a result, we can choose to be joyful, happy, and thankful despite our circumstances. Elijah listened to this and received it well.

Edric and I spent a good three hours with Elijah yesterday and something magical happened in those hours. Elijah’s attitude changed. On our way home, he was smiling his big, bright smile. He was chatty and positive, and he was raving about the food we at. He’s back, I thought to myself. Thank you, Lord! Elijah told us he had a great time, that he loved the food and most especially, he felt better because we got to talk about how he was feeling “in private.”

As a writing assignment, I asked him to do a blog entry about his experience at the ophthalmologist. This is what he wrote:

Today (September 5) I had my eyes checked and the grade of my eyes had risen double in the past three years. I felt disappointed because, before I had my checkup we prayed that my eyes would be better. But God had a different plan. He had a bigger plan. He loves me, so he will only do things to help me. And someday (or soon) God will fulfill his plan.

All of us have our own dreams for ourselves, but God has the best plans for us. I really wanted my eyes to get better, but I know that God can’t just make eyes better, he can make them perfect. It may not happen, but I know that God loves me. He will not allow anything bad to happen to me.

I want to be thankful because at least, I can still see!

In heaven, my eyes will be perfect and I will see better. This is the verse I want to share in Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.”

Over breakfast this morning, I said to him, “You seem so positive and different than yesterday when you found out. What changed?” “I know God has a plan,” was his sincere reply. Does he still feel sad about his eyes? Yes. But he is choosing to believe in the goodness of God.

Elijah may not have 20/20 vision, but if he can see with spiritual eyes, he will see far more than 20/20 will ever give him. After all, “we walk by faith and not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) 20120906-115934.jpg

52 thoughts on “Better than 20/20

  1. Wow, I must say Elijah is quicker to bounce back from a disappointment than most christian adults I know – which definitely includes me! Please tell him that what he wrote in his writing assignment was a GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT to me. Praise God too for the gentle way you and Edric spent ‘private time’ with him 🙂 Hugs❤ to you all!

    1. I should share this with Kayla, Joy. We’ve also been praying for her to have a better eyesight. Her grade now is -2.25 and it also worries me because every time she goes through a checkup, her grade goes up 🙁 Thanks for blogging about it.

  2. Elijah’s faith is really growing and maturing. It’s so inspiring and encouraging how God is working in his life. And he writes so well!

    1. Thanks Roceli! He is getting better at writing because he gets to do it through his blog. It’s helping to motivate him 🙂

  3. It’s like reading an adult’s blog entry. 🙂 Praise God for parents like you and Edric who give time to their kids to help them process.

  4. I can understand how Elijah feels. 🙁 I had to wear glasses when I was only 5. At the age of 8, I was already using soft contact lenses because my eye grade wouldn’t stop going up. I think I had reached 400-500 at that point as well. Eventually, my ophthalmologist shifted me to gas permeable (hard) lenses so that it would “control” the shape of my eyes. It was a huge hassle, having to put eye drops and dealing with dust specks in my eyes (which would hurt) and at one point, I thought I was going to go blind too! My condition is genetic too, unfortunately, but the lenses helped stop the grade from progressing. 🙂 Not sure if Elijah can explore that option…

    It’s great though that he has such a mature and wise understanding of God’s plans at this age. It’s something I didn’t have back then. Praise God for this entry and for your family! 🙂

  5. Joy, I’m in the airport lounge waiting for my flight. I’ve just read this article and am trying to (unsuccessfully) suppress an emotional sob. The kind of sob that comes from a heart that’s so grateful to be our loving Father’s child. The kind of sob that comes from being reminded that families that trust, follow and love God do indeed have such an abundant life together! Thank you for sharing this magic moment with your followers!

    1. Thanks! I hope you had a great flight! Blessings to you and your family. You are such dear friends. Thank you for your encouragement. May the Lord always get the glory for the journeys and experiences he takes us through.

  6. Hi Joy. Elijah’s reaction and response to his circumstance is such an inspiration for all. His trust and faith in God is so strong. You and Edric are such great parents and good spiritual leaders. Kudos to your family.
    As is usual in the case of high myope patients, their refraction will increase especially during the pubertal stage. By the age of 18-21 the refraction stabilizes ( that’s why lasik can be entertained as treatment already by this age). It would be great if they can limit the use of tech stuff that causes them to use near vision( though not yet proven scentifically, we noticed that refraction go higher faster). Food rich in lutein may help to keep the eye healthy too.

    1. Thanks Nyree, I researched about the food you mentioned and told Elijah about it. 🙂 Thanks so much. Thanks for your concern. It means a lot.

  7. I’m humbled…my situation now seemed lighter, compared to his. whatever i’m going through is according to His good and perfect plan. to Him be all glory and honor!!!

  8. Hey, Joy! I can only imagine how difficult it must be for Elijah. I only started wearing glasses about four years ago (then, my grade was 50/50), but now, it’s up to 125/125. I’m sure it must be doubly harder for Elijah!

    I praise God for the way he’s handling this situation, though. And it warms my heart to see that, at such a young age, he has the maturity to accept that God’s ways are higher than our ways. I know the Lord will continue to work wonders in Elijah’s life and use him to bring others to His kingdom. 🙂

    1. Thank you Tina! I learn a lot from my kids as I see God work in their hearts. It is encouraging to know that he partners with parents to raise children. We really can’t do it on our own…

  9. What a beautiful article! You and Edric are such great parents. I praise God for your example. Thank you for posting this. And I agree with Roceli. Elijaj writes really well! The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. 🙂

    1. Thanks Liza! It took him a while to like writing until I encouraged him to put stuff on his blog. It sort of gave him greater motivation. Praise God that we get to homeschool at a time when technology makes it a whole lot easier!

  10. Wow Joy, this is the first time I read your blog. It was beautifully written and so inspiring. As Elijah’s “Grandmother/Tita”, I admire him for his faith and the beautiful and talented person that he is. He makes me proud. And my gosh, he is also an excellent writer! Grandpa would have been so proud of you and Edric for the way you have raised your children. I am eagerly awaiting for your entire family to visit me in Singapore.

  11. Hi Joy,

    I feel so blessed reading this blog entry. You see, my mom also has an eye condition (macula degeneration). She can only see things through her peripheral vision. Doctor says her eyesight will not improve anymore – so the monthly injections are for maintainance only. For years, we were praying to God to heal her eyes. But God spoke to my mom that we walk by faith and not by sight. Through God’s grace, even if she has limited vision, she still continues to read the Bible everyday. 🙂

    You and Edric are such great parents. I hope that Jerome and I could also raise our kids to have a deep faith and love for God. 🙂 God bless you always!


    1. Hi Dotty! I am sorry to hear about your mom’s eye condition but so blessed to know that she reads her bible faithfully. That’s awesome! Such a good example!

  12. I was close to tears as I read your post, Joy. Elijah is blessed to have parents like you and Edric who would walk alongside him especially when times are too difficult for a boy his age. Elijah and my son are about the same age, so I could somehow relate to his questions about God’s seemingly unanswered prayer. Indeed, God has other plans and it’s encouraging to know that Elijah sees the bigger picture.

    He writes well too. He must have gotten it from the mom 🙂

    1. We are blessed to have him and blessed to have one another, but most of all, blessed to have Jesus! Thank you for your encouragement, Jude. We are imperfect parents on a journey, enjoying where God is taking us and learning to trust him in all things — good and bad. 🙂

  13. We just used this article for our bible study this evening — this really blessed everyone! It has filled us with renewed eyes of faith! Thank you for sharing.

  14. Oh Joy :’) You and Edric are doing really good in raising your children and encouraging them along the way. Elijah’s growth is blessed by your honesty — not sugar coating the Truth about God’s ways and time.

    Thank you for sharing this and for allowing God to guard your hearts, too, as parents. God loves Elijah and He is using your family to share His light on this growing little man. So wonderful.

    May you stay strong and courageous esp. when the kids need it. Much love! God bless :*

    1. Thank you, Lorraine! 🙂 Appreciate your encouragement. Please keep praying for Elijah and all of us. Only by HIS grace!

  15. Joy, this is a terrific piece and a great testimony for your entire family. Elijah will be a great representative for Christ (he already is). God has great plans for him.

  16. Hi Joy, if you and Edric are open to it, there are definitely nutritional supplements like Lutein that was mentioned that can help slow down the condition. Lutein is considered a basic. There are many others that I give my patients that has helped. I can get into more details with you if you wish, plus other non-supplement and non-invasive things that Elijah can try on his own. Text me if you want to discuss this asap.

  17. By the way, forgot to mention that his nutrition from his diet may also be affecting his eyesight. For example, high sugar foods (or even certain kinds of carbs) may be affecting his eyes.
    Consider that many diabetics have affected eyesight due to the level of sugar an free radical damage to their eyes. Not saying that Elijah is or will be a diabetic but just pointing out the connection between sugar (from diet) and eye health.
    Let’s talk further…

  18. Hi Joy, thanks so much for sharing this. Riel also has an eye problem –which may also be genetically inherited (obviously from me and his dad). His grade also went up compared to his last check up (6months ago). He doesn’t watch much TV and doesn’t play much computer but he loves to read A LOT and optha said this may be causing (or may add to) his eye strain so he would need to regularly rest his eyes.

    I am so blessed with how Elijah “processed” everything. He is so much blessed to have you and Edric as parents.

    God bless you!

  19. I salute you for homeschooling your kids and I salute you for having such God-fearing children. I just read the testimony today and I am so awed by Elijah’s devotion to God. I am a mother of 3 and we also attend CCF but at Alabang and I encourage them to read always and know that Papa God lives in the heart always and to pray to him all the time. =)

  20. This is so incredibly touching. I’m so blessed by Elijah’s great faith even in tough times. This is why I work super hard in NxtGen every time it’s my team’s turn…I want to mass-produce wonderful young men such as this.

    Well done.

  21. Last night, a friend of mine shared Elijah’s testimony in FB. Out of curiosity, I read it and it led me to your blog. Little did I know that’s the message I needed to hear. The simplicity of the story about faith and God’s purpose penetrated my heart. God, indeed, spoke to my heart using Elijah’s disappointment and frustrations. Elijah’s words resonate mine – “I prayed. How come God didn’t answer my prayer?”

    For the past several months, I have been angry and frustrated with God due to many unanswered prayers. I stopped listening to him and reading His words. As I read Elijah’s story, my heart softened and heard God saying, “I have a purpose and it is to give you hope and a future.” I cried and reconciled with God. I, too, will choose to trust God although I may not know the reason why He didn’t grant my request.

    Thanks Joy for sharing and please tell Elijah that I’m glad he heeded God’s calling to share his testimony. God bless.

    1. Praise God, Dawn! That’s great to hear. I pray that God will continue to speak to you and minister to you through his word and others..l

  22. Hi Joy! We may haven’t met personally but our God and our child far better connects us. I have been praying and crying because I was having problem with my eldest child. Being a single parent of three boys I was having a hard time raising them up and I have no clue on how to meet their emotional needs. And by God’s goodness here is your Elijah to match my own Elijah who is also a nine year old. Your Elijah might have a poor vision through his physical eyes but my Elijah have his in his emotional eyes. The scars left by the wound that he receive from me as a battered child blinded him of the good future that God has in store him. We may not be in the same position and my Elijah may not have the same background as your Elijah, but my hope rest in this truth.. that both of them has the same great God that we want them to meet and experience in their own life. Thanks for your family Joy and your Church. Many times did I ponder if God is calling me there in CCF but God wants to use me and even extend your ministry here in my own church. Sernd my love and regards to you and to your own family. And hey, I only have 3 boys but I know that God will give me my precious daughter when God will finally give the man that God has in store for me to have the same passion as I have for God’s kingdom. God bless You!

    1. Thanks for sharing that Lily! May God indeed bless you with a daughter in his time. 🙂 Boys are great, though! Enjoy them!

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