Color blindness is usually in inherited trait. It happens when a person is born without one (or more) of the sets of retinal cone cells required to perceive color in light and transmit that information to the optic nerve. The colors that are usually affected are red, green or blue.
Because Ed can't distinguish shades of green or red, he can't appreciate the color change that happens in the fall. For him, leaves on trees look brown all the time! Colors are all around us every day. We're aware of colors when we're shopping for clothes or choosing a paint color for the house. But it's easy to take for granted the rich variety of shades of color in the world around us. We see them all the time and pass on to the tasks we have to accomplish at work or school. But because I'm aware of what my brother can't see, I have always considered the ability to distinguish colors a gift from God.
Sometimes in the summer I look around my yard and I'm intrigued by all the shades of green. Not only did God design leaves on trees and shrubs and blades of grass in a vast variety of shape and size, he also gave them slightly different shades of color. If you ask someone to name the color of a pine needle, a blade of St. Augustine grass, and an oak leaf, they'll say "green." But put them side by side, and they're not exactly the same color. Artists have names for various shades of green. I don't know very many of those names, but I appreciate the ability to see the differences. It is this amazing variety of shades of color that make the natural world so beautiful.
The basic colors we can see are all there in the rainbow, but it's amazing what God can do with them on the canvas of the evening sky. As the humidity decreases this month and the sky is free of clouds in the evening, the setting sun produces a display of soft pink or orange that blends into shades of blue and on to deep purple as the stars begin to shine. that's a pretty lame description. If I knew the names of colors better, I could be more specific in my description. All I know is that it is beautiful and I appreciate it. I marvel over and over again at the generous beauty God has built into the world.
The ability to see all this beauty is an extravagant gift. People who are color blind live happy, productive lives even though they can't see all the beauty in the color spectrum on display every day in God's world. We don't need to be able to distinguish color to survive. But God still gave us the ability to see, enjoy, and delight in the beauty of color. My guess is that He intends for us to see His glory in all this and to delight not just in the beauty we see around us, but in the beauty of the God who created it. If the world God has made is this glorious, what must He be like?
Color blindness is an effect of the fall. Man's fall in sin brought all kinds of distortion into God's world. The fall affects not only the spiritual dimension of life. It affects the body too. All of us will experience that in one way or another as we age and die. Many live with ailments others don't experience. But these effects are temporary. God has promised to redeem creation itself as he restores this fallen planet:
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now... (Romans 8:19-22).
But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (II Peter 3:13).
And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new" (Revelation 21:5).
Some day my brother Ed will be able to see the difference between greens and reds. When I consider what that will be like for him and how he will marvel at what he has never yet seen, I am glad for him. What an amazing visual experience that will be. How he will delight in the beauty and glory of God as he sees things he's never seen before.
I wonder what I will be able to see clearly for the first time? I'm quite sure I won't be disappointed!!