What a Tragedy! Or Maybe Not

Jul 30, 2015 by


This week I started reading a fascinating book: And There Was Light: Autobiography of Jacques Lusseyran, Blind Hero of the French Resistance. I haven’t gotten to the part where he manages to join the Resistance and survive a concentration camp yet; I’m still enjoying Jacques’ early life as a young boy adjusting to blindness.

Jacques lost his sight in a freak accident at eight years old, in his school classroom of all places. What a sobering reminder of how quickly life can change. But it immediately becomes clear that sudden blindness did not ruin his life. Looking back on the experience as an adult, Jacques doesn’t even seem to consider it a tragedy. The loss of his sight opened up a whole new world of sound, texture, and scent. He continued to do everything that his peer did, including go to public school (in the 1930s!). As a person who has always lived with limited vision, I completely got his explanation of why sight can limit one’s “vision” of the word. For example, according to him, when you look at something, you only see the surface; when you touch it, you take in the texture and weight and shape and so many other details. I truly believe this is true. He presents blindness as the thing that allowed him to experience life more richly. Of course, his great attitude helped. He also had supportive parents, who encouraged him, gave him the freedom to explore, let him fall down and pick himself back up, and took the time to help him adjust (his mom even learned Braille with him), and teachers willing to believe that a blind boy could still learn as much as the other kids.

I couldn’t help thinking of my own experience, and the many details of my life that some might consider a tragedy. Instead, although these circumstance or changes required a lot of adjustment, each thing opened up a new perspective on life and even brought benefits. Attitude had a lot to do with it, and I have been blessed with support, but most of all I have God to thank for His power to turn what looks hopeless into a beautiful things.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV).

How has He made this true in your life? Which “tragedies” have you found benefits in?

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  1. What a profound difference attitude makes! It really is everything. I’ve watched God use my son’s incurable type 1 diabetes to develop his character and make him a deep young man of faith. Not the means I would have chosen, but it certainly has built my faith!

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      I have a feeling that your son’s struggle and your response to it is also building the faith of others!

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