For God So Loved ... Edward Hersh

Surprises Unfold in Newborn's Development

The year was 1957 and the town was Hanover PA. One fall day a healthy 8 lb. baby boy was born to teen parents. Some time later this first born son was diagnosed as having opticatrophy, a severe deterioration of the optic nerve in both eyes. No explanation for the cause of this disorder was available except that It occurred somehow during the birth process. The doctors informed the parents that if the condition did not worsen by age 10, it would probably stablize and would remain the same for life. The boy was termed legally blind and as such would need special magnification devices to read normal-sized print, never be eligible for a driver's license, and participation in competitive sports would be improbable. He would be considered disabled, and therefore, according to society's standards, could become a burden to family, friends, or civil authorities. There are those in today's culture who would even make the case for a child with known disabilities to be aborted and the parents encouraged to "try again" for a healthier child.

Well, I support the right for every human being to live, from the moment of conception on, because you see, I was that baby boy born in 1957. My blindness was most likely caused by an error in judgment on the part of the attending medical personnel. Whether it was the buildup of pressure from the long labor my mother experienced, or maybe the forceps used by the doctor, only God knows the cause. Whether God initiated it or allowed it to happen doesn't matter nearly as much as how I decide to respond to it. And quite honestly, I haven't always been able to respond positively.

Adolescence was a particularly difficult time for me. I was asking the natural question; "Why did something like this happen to me?", "What about my future?", "Will I ever get married and have a family?". I felt worthless and even contemplated suicide as a way out of the loneliness and embarrassment I felt by not being able to measure up to standards of "normal" social behavior. I asked God many times to grant me a miracle and restore my vision.

Miracles, Miracles

Miracles are no stranger to my family. As a child, I went to church every Sunday with my parents. In numerous public meetings I remember my grandfather relating the following story in a way that affected me very deeply.

Jesse Hersh was left to die in the hall of a hospital in 1959. The back wheel of a tractor he had fallen from ran over him crushing everything between his neck and pelvis. Though conscious, he lay in the field unable to move while he watched the tractor circle around three times nearly missing his head each time. Finally someone driving on a nearby highway saw the riderless tractor and found him in the field. His pulse was so low they couldn't even give him medication to ease the pain.

The days and weeks that followed proved that modern day miracles occur. The family turned to God for help. Jesse was visited by an angel who told him he would be healed. He vowed to serve God and forever give Him the credit for his healing. He gradually returned to health and was back out working on the farm within a year. His story was an encouragement to many people the rest of his life.

While on the one hand my grandfather's testimony gave me faith in God's ability to heal, on the other hand it left me asking the question, "Well God, where's MY miracle?" I blamed God for my troubles brought on by people prejudging and misunderstanding my disability and I became very intraverted. By the time I graduated from high school, I would have chucked Christianity if given the chance.

Does God Care, or What?

But God had something else in mind.

I enrolled at Millersville University to begin in the fall semester. The state rehabilitation agency which funded much of my education, sponsored a summer orientation program for visually impaired college freshmen which was held at Edinboro University. Since Edinboro is at the other end of the state, my parents dropped me off and I wouldn't see them for two months. I was assigned a dormitory room randomly with a roommate whom I never met and about whom I knew nothing. I thought little of it at the time, but the roommate I was to receive would set the pace for my entire college career and ultimately the rest of my life.

After unloading my belongings from the car, I walked into the room and discovered a Bible and some contemporary Christian music artists' albumns lying on a desk. When Tim returned to his room after the day's work as a painter for the college, I found out he had become a Christian the semester before. Within hours he led me through the campus and all over town meeting other Christians. When I discovered the large number of partiers on campus, I could only thank God that he had orchestrated a chain of events for Tim and I to be roommates, and enjoy the fellowship of a well-grounded Christian community.

During my college years I received a new outlook on life. I became involved in a church that helped me gain many new insights into the grace and mercy of God. I viewed the Bible no longer as a "rule book" listing do's and don'ts, but more as a "guide book" with real-to-life examples of people who have already lived the faith and are now reaping the eternal rewards.

Living the Miracle of Blindness

God may not have given me the miracle of sight, but he has performed many other miracles in my life. As a matter of fact, the ability God gives me each day to get up in the morning and face another day of living with a serious sight limitaion, is far greater a miracle than if he would restore my eyes with sight. There is simply no way to overcome adversity without having adverse situations to overcome. Trials and tribulations are sometimes the only means to a healthier dependence on God.

Coping with a disability is not an easy matter. I've had to work much harder than the average person for the level of success God has allowed me to enjoy. I have no intentions of giving up and I desire to significantly contribute to the world God has placed me in. My lovely wife Stephanie and our four children are the greatest gift God has given me. I was employed in software development for about 17 years and am now working in counseling ministry. Having earned two bachelor degrees (German and Computsr Science), I recently completed a Masters in Human Service Counseling at Regent University. I have been actively involved in a number of church congregations over the years and I have also been privileged to serve on various boards and committees in the community. I have done much to defy the societal stereotype of a blind person, but in it all I boast in God and give Him all the credit for these accomplishments. (2 Cor. 10:17,18).

I firmly believe Romans 8:28, knowing that God has ways of making good things happen out of situations in which we feel hopelessly lost. I can truly say that it's only God's grace (His ability) that has overcome my inabilities.

Though severe limitations are not in God's plan for all of us, we all face things that remind us of our human frailty. So whether we consider ourselves enabled or disabled, rich or poor, skilled or unskilled, part of the "in" crowd or not, God has a purpose for each of our lives. Understanding the value God places on each individual human life is essential to overcoming discouragement caused by infirmity or deficiency. Psalm 139:18-17 explains the detailed attention God gives to the creation of each life in the womb. And the greatest expression of worth is found in the gospel message itself. God loved us each so much that He gave His own Son's life to redeem us from the penalty for our sin. What an amazing life! Isaiah 53:5 describes how Jesus willingly accepted the bondage of affliction in order to give us liberty from ours. What an amazing love!

Where Are You on This?

Most people reading to this point fall into one of three categories:
  1. Something inside is saying,
    "Yes, this is good news that God loves me. I may or may not have heard this before, but I want to know more about how to receive his love personally."
  2. Something inside is saying,
    "Yes, maybe I am blaming God for ... so and so ... " or
    "Yes, I need to give ... so and so ... over to God" or
    "If only I had ... so and so ..., I could be a better person." or
    "If only I didn't have and so..., I could and so... "
  3. Something inside is saying,
    "Yes, I need to keep this in mind at times when I feel ... so and so ... " You may experience a certain amount of victory, but you realize you could experience more.

Respond today! Click one of the above and commit yourself to act on what you read.

God Bless You!

by Edward Hersh

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
John 3:16,17 (NIV)

If you think this story would inspire or encourage folks of an organization to which you belong, and you would like to have me come share it sometime, drop me a line at:

Send comments to: Edward Hersh
Last updated: ()

Return to Healing and Care Counseling Home Page