On this day in 1900, the Bayer Company patented acetylsalicylic acid, which the world came to know as aspirin. The invention of this wonder drug actually occurred 47 years earlier by a French chemist named Charles Frederic Gerhardt. In 1853, Gerhardt came up with the formula for aspirin but did nothing with it. In 1899, a German chemist named Felix Hoffmann, who worked for Bayer, studied Gerhardt’s notes, mixed some aspirin powder, and gave it to his father, who was suffering from joint pain. When the drug worked, Hoffman went to his superiors and convinced them to manufacture the drug. Bayer invented the name aspirin by combining the “A” in acetylsalicylic acid; the “spir” in spiraea ulmaria , an herb which was the natural source of ASA; and ”in,” a common ending for medications.
Hoffman was a visionary. He saw something that Gerhardt didn’t and capitalized on it. Today, some 80 billion aspirin tablets are popped every year, taken to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and prevent heart attacks.
The greatest visionary of history was Jesus Christ. He saw the true God in a time when the prophets were silent and the Pharisees offered only religious policy. Jesus did only what he saw His Father doing. He spoke when God spoke; He wholly completed what God gave him to do. “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19 NASB).
As God’s own Son, Jesus had unique divine vision. However, as children of the Father, that doesn’t mean we can’t “see” God, too. By developing certain spiritual qualities, we can train the eyes of our heart to behold God.
The seeing heart is a searching heart. When Moses spied the burning bush, he walked over for closer examination (read Exodus 3:3-4). We will find God if we move toward Him in faith and wonder. Even more, the Bible promises that if we do this, God will not idly wait for us to get to Him. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8, emphasis mine).
The seeing heart is a humble heart. The arrogant man and haughty woman cannot see God because their souls hold a mirror reflecting inward. God shows up for the lowly and shares His plans with the meek. The Christmas story is one such example. Gabriel appeared to a peasant girl and an army of angels to poor shepherds. Even the bedecked Magi knelt when they beheld the Christ Child.
The seeing heart is a pure heart. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). Biblically speaking, the heart is not just the seat of emotions, but the source of all thoughts, attitudes, and motives. If we want to see God, we must train our inner eye to look upon “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable…” (Philippians 4:8 ESV)
I’ve noticed something in my spiritual life that isn’t a great revelation. but I forget it sometimes. The less I gaze upon God, the more I see of myself with all my hang-ups, but when I gaze upon God’s beauty, the less I see of myself – and the more content I become with the real me, the created me. This is exactly the opposite of what our culture teaches, with its fixation on self-fulfillment and pleasure-seeking. And I think that’s why so many people, when they finally grab the brass ring, wonder, “Is this all? Is this what I have spent all my life working for?”
God’s Word encourages us to “fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). The eyes in our head eventually grow cloudy, our sight dim. But if we keep our focus on God, our spiritual vision can remain 20/20, no matter how old we become.