I have been horribly sick this week with an abscessed tooth. Fewer things in life are as terrible as a toothache. I endured the labor and delivery of three children with no drugs better than I handled this small, inconspicuous tooth. The pain was relentlessly excruciating. I won’t go into detail – just suffice it to say that I’m glad to be alive. And the pounds I lost were NOT worth it. (that ought to tell you something)
As I writhed in pain, I wanted Bill to lay hands on my tooth and pray the pain away. Moaning in agony, I wanted Bill to rend the heavens. As I lay on the bathroom floor quoting Scriptures like to live is Christ and to die is gain, I wanted Bill to fast and intercede for me.
I was too busy hurting to talk to Abba about this tooth. My mind was too focused on the object of my discomfort to think of anything else. My thoughts were occupied with the never ending nausea and all the stuff that goes with it. I was too busy wondering if this was ever going to end. And if it did, would I have all my teeth? And what would I look like if teeth were missing? Would Bill be ok with a toothless wife? How many teeth do you actually need to still talk?
And somewhere between the shower and the toilet, I realized something.
My mind was full of everything but the one thing that could help me through this: Truth. The facts of my situation were undeniable – I was in a painful mess. After dentist hours. (doesn’t it always seem to happen that way?) And I chose to look at the facts. I chose to worry about those facts. I chose to speculate on those facts.
Instead, I needed to stop and shift my focus, zooming in on the Truth that Jesus has promised to never leave me (Hebrews 13:5) and is right there with me – even on the bathroom floor. I needed to turn over all my worries to Him because He cares about me (1Peter 5:7). I needed to remember that I can give my problems to Him and He will take care of them (Psalm 55:22) I needed to remember that He goes before me and is following me and even if I go to the grave (hey – I wasn’t so sure) He would be there with me and His strength would support me (Psalm 139:5-10).
Once I straightened out my thinking, things got better. Yes, my tooth still hurt. Yes, I was still nauseous. No, I wasn’t on the bathroom floor anymore because Bill wouldn’t let me lie there any longer. BUT – my perspective changed and I felt hopeful. I was comforted by the thought that Jesus surrounded me and I wasn’t alone in my pain. I was calmed by the Truth that Jesus was with me and helping me in ways Bill never could. I was encouraged because I knew that Abba’s strength was supporting me. When I stopped letting my circumstances consume me and allowed His presence to enfold me, I was at rest.
This painful experience is one more step in the process. Learning to lean on Him for strength and grace. Learning to let Him take care of me. Learning to let Him lead, even in a toothache. Learning that no experience is wasted. Learning to trust Him with the outcome. Learning that His timing is not mine (especially in this situation). Learning that He is working everything together for my good.
Did I already know these things? Yes. But I needed to choose to remember and think on these things. And that made all the difference.
And when I do finally die, I am going to leave this tooth to my children because it’s the most expensive thing I own.
ps – a huge thank you to the best dentist in the world, Dr. Scott Ferguson. He came in after hours to help a poor girl out. I also want to thank the wonderful Dr. Steven Fegan, who came in on Superbowl Sunday in a blizzard to save my life.
pss ~ October 2017: this tooth is now encased in a velvet jewel box, kept with all my valuables. I’m sure my children will be thrilled to inherit.