As I sit in the York University auditorium, waiting for the public speaking contest to begin, I look at my youngest son with compassion. Chosen by his School Board to represent them for the provincial French speak-off, I can just imagine his mixed feelings as both dread and excitement course through his veins. This kind of torture has components of dreadful pain, because he will either end up in victory or in defeat. But even defeat can be received with grace as an opportunity to learn from one’s mistakes …
The same is true with life. Praise be to God, I obtained victory over my terrible toothache. I had been warned, however, that further pain would be forthcoming, and it sure was!
Months later, a different tooth began throbbing. I tried to ignore it at first. In fact I started to eat on the other side of my mouth in order to avoid aggravating the pain! After a couple of months of suffering, however, I had no choice but to have it checked out.
It didn’t help that my dentist couldn’t locate the offending tooth. He referred me to a specialist. Boy did I felt special!
The specialist had no problems locating the agonizing tooth, and he was equally as quick to declare that I would need a root canal, and soon.
I was about as excited as a rodent encountering a vicious and sadistic feline.
Hurr … nayyy! Help!!!!!
The root canal specialist was kind enough to offer me the choice of having anaesthesia during the surgery. Oh how I longed to have the privilege of taking him up on his offer, but I had no one to drive me home. He wasn’t exactly located in my immediate neighbourhood, and Timbuktu was closer than this place!
Three days before the event, my dear mother-in-law offered to drive me to and from my appointment. I couldn’t resist, and I went to bed happy. I could have my anaesthesia! I wasn’t at peace, however. Something stirred in my mind, telling me I wasn’t doing the right thing! I decided to ignore it, though, and I soon fell asleep.
In the middle of the night I woke up with a feeling of dread. I couldn’t shake the thought of my ordeal that would take place in just two days. I took my Bible and conferred with God, and I was led to 1 Peter 5:2b-3: “Not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” NIV
I was immediately convinced that I should not take the anaesthesia. But was it possible that I misunderstood God’s message? I hoped so, and I asked for confirmation. Next I was led to Matt 13:22: “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” NIV
Again I was convicted that I should not take the anaesthesia. I would miss a God moment if I didn’t follow His advice!
I pleaded for a third confirmation, and I was led to Luke 18:8b: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” NIV
Who was I to argue with God! I decided that I would call the dental office in the morning, and I went back to bed.
Only after my call did inner peace fill my soul. Instead of dread, I was now anticipating an encounter with my Heavenly Father in one of the most unusual places in the world: the dentist chair! That night I slept soundly and woke up refreshed and filled with energy.
Pain can sometimes be avoided, but is this always in our best interest?
I will have to ask my son that question after the public speaking contest!
(To view the entire “When Suffering Seems Unbearable” devotional series, please click here.)