Late this past summer, the Wall Street Journal reported that researchers had discovered how to “revive” eyes from recently deceased people.
“The accomplishment, which many experts hadn’t thought possible, gives scientists the ability for the first time to conduct experiments on a functioning human retina, potentially unlocking a treasure trove of new information about the chemistry of vision and what goes wrong in the intricate network of retinal cells when people start losing their sight,” wrote the Journal’s Ron Winslow.
Scientists believe this development could very well lead to the restoration of vision for the more than seven million Americans struggling with some degree of acute eyesight loss. More than one million people in our country are blind – and another 43 million around the world can’t see.
When I read the story, I thought of my late father, who struggled for years with macular degeneration. Already legally blind in one eye as he aged, his deteriorating vision in the other prevented him from driving and then reading, which he loved. Just ten years ago, he was told there was nothing else that could be done. Now there is hope for people like him.
Wonder and awe aren’t just relegated to the labs, of course. It’s all around us – but we run the risk of the extraordinary becoming all too ordinary due to the speed and frequency of advancements of all kinds.
The other morning, I received a call from my friend. I was unloading the dishwasher. He was in Prague. We chatted amiably for thirty minutes. I have other friends who have military spouses in the Middle East. One of them talks to her husband, who’s stationed in Afghanistan, while she’s in the carpool line at school.
A generation ago we never could have imagined the ease, frequency and affordability of such casual communication. I was in college back in 1991 when a professor told us the day was coming when our phones and phone numbers would follow us everywhere. It seemed fanciful to me.
It was way back in 1899 that President William McKinley was told by the director of the United States Patent Office that the agency should close shop because everything had been invented.
A few years earlier, it was the pastor Charles Spurgeon who wisely observed, “Everything is wonderful until you get used to it.”
My friend Derek’s grandfather lived to be over one-hundred years of age. Derek was talking with him one day and observed that he had seen so much in the past century – from the Wright Brothers flying at Kitty Hawk to man landing and walking on the moon. Many deadly diseases had been eradicated. He had gone from riding a horse to driving a car. Of all those developments, what had amazed him most of all? The old man smiled, closed his eyes, and then responded:
“Of all the incredible things I’ve seen and heard, the most wondrous is this: ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life’” (John 3:16).
Derek’s grandfather died shortly after, but he had found the “secret” to happiness and contentment this side of eternity. He never lost sight of the wonders of the world, especially God’s gift of His son, Jesus Christ.
We slide into the third Sunday of Advent this weekend, and Christmas is coming like a runaway freight train down a steep mountain. There’s no stopping it. Presents still need to be purchased, cards may still need to be written. Maybe the lights are still in a box in the crawlspace in the basement.
We recently passed the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the famed King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Back in 1922, after multiple failed expeditions, British archeologist Howard Carter had finally found the big prize. Breaking through the opening and placing his lantern in the darkness, a partner behind him asked, “Professor, what do you see?”
“I see wonderful things!” exclaimed Carter.
If we know where to look this Advent and Christmas season, we will see wonderful things. Be on the lookout for the moments – and don’t let go when you find them.
Photo from Shutterstock.