Aaron has a medical condition (Retinitis Pigmentosa) with no cure or treatment which causes blindness. He shares the frustrations of a deteriorating eyesight and the surprising ways in which his physical blindness helps him see a lot more.
Aaron is pastor of Darebin Presbyterian Church. Aaron loves watching sport, running, hiking, reading, eating good food and drinking good coffee.
Join us as we ask Aaron Boyd some bigger question.
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Bigger questions asked in the conversation
Today’s big question, on blindness deals with suffering and without trying to trivialise suffering at all, I thought we’d test you on how much you know about venetian blinds.
Aaron’s medical situation: going to go blind - the science
Now Aaron, Massimo Taibi was a footballer who was jokingly labelled blind because he let in a very soft goal. Now, you don’t mind a bit of football yourself do you? But you can’t play any more because of a medical condition you have which leads to genuine blindness. Can you tell us about your condition?
So what does that mean in everyday life? What things are harder to do, or what can’t you do?
And it’s gotten worse over time? Can you drive?
Have there been any particularly challenging moments?
And so what is the prognosis? What do the specialists say?
Is there a cure?
Aaron’s emotional situation: feelings of missing out?
So how do you accept your condition? The Retina Australia website claims that “accepting that you have Retinitis Pigmentosa will not be easy. You may go through periods of despair and of feeling resentful, bewildered or even angry.”
Did you, or do you, feel those things?
The fear of missing out is ‘an anxiety or apprehension around the idea that others might be experiencing something that you're not’. Is that something you feel, that others will have a happier, more interesting, fulfilling lives because they’ll be able to see and yet you’re going blind?
Are there any positive things you draw from your condition and knowing that you’ll go blind?
You’re a pastor of a church. Do you wonder if God is punishing you for something you’ve done wrong?
The Bible’s answer - a man born blind - cause of blindness
There are important things spoken of about spiritual sight in a story from the Bible, which perhaps surprisingly helps us answer today’s big question: Will going blind mean missing out in life?
In Chapter 9 of the Gospel of John, one of the four biographies of Jesus’ life we have, we meet a blind man. Chapter 9:1 says,
As Jesus went along, he saw a man blind from birth. Then Jesus’ disciples asked, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’
The disciples ask about the man’s suffering here - why is he disabled and others not? What were they thinking?
So what do you make of Jesus response?
3 ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
Is it significant that there is purpose to the man’s ailment? That ‘the works of God might be displayed in him’?
Jesus goes on and makes a dramatic statement in verse 4 where he says,
4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’
What do you think Jesus meant when he claims to be the light of the world?
The Bible’s answer - a man born blind - healing
6 After saying this, Jesus spat on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 ‘Go,’ he told him, ‘wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (this word means ‘Sent’). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
So the man was healed by Jesus. Have you ever tried putting mud in your eyes and praying to Jesus for a healing?
There are many faithful Christians who live for Jesus who aren’t blind. Do you feel bitter towards God at all for giving you this condition?
The Bible’s answer - a man born blind - physical vs spiritual blindness
The story continues, the religious leaders investigate the healing of the man, but they end up rejecting his testimony throwing him out of the temple. What do you make of their reaction to the healing?
The story continues in John 9:35,
35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’
36 ‘Who is he, sir?’ the man asked. ‘Tell me so that I may believe in him.’
The ‘Son of Man’ is a term that Jesus used to speak about himself. So when he asks this question, it’s interesting that the former blind man doesn’t recognise Jesus immediately. Why is that?
37 Jesus said, ‘You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.’
38 Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshipped him.
What do you make of the formerly blind man’s response to Jesus?
This is very different to the response of the religious leaders? Why is that?
The passage concludes with Jesus speaking with the religious leaders.
39 Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.’
40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, ‘What? Are we blind too?’
41 Jesus said, ‘If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
In what sense do you think that the religious leaders are blind?
So which do you think is more significant: spiritual blindness or physical blindness?
Personal testimony - overcoming spiritual blindness
So Aaron, you’re now a pastor of a church - your spiritual eyes have been opened, can you share your story of how that happened?
The Big Question
So Aaron, will going blind mean missing out in life?