The constant ache and then sudden, excruciating pain of anything cold that ruled my last week is not something I will soon forget.
Growing up, I had two traumatic experiences with dentists and consequently, I do not go to the dentist any more often than is absolutely necessary. Normally, our family goes in all together (all seven of us) and the hygienists and receptionists compare scheduling us to a Sudoku puzzle…entertaining but a relief when you finally make it to the end. When they got my call – three months early – and saw me come in all by myself, everyone knew something was wrong. They greeted me kindly and we all stopped to visit and chat while I explained the pain.
As the dentist poked and prodded, he could not seem to find any issues and thought that perhaps an old cavity/filling had cracked. When he sprayed the cold water and air into my tooth, I thought the world had come to an end. I sat straight up, the muscles in my face all contracted and I started to cry. Poor man, how could he have known such a little thing would cause so much pain. After putting eight needles in for freezing, he and I agreed that the shade of green I was turning was probably not good and he administered nitrous oxide to help me relax and overcome the pain. I lost count of how many more freezings he put in after that but eventually the drugs began to take effect and the pain became tolerable. The dentist drilled out the old filling; he said that it went very deep into my tooth, and replaced it with a new medicated kind that would help the tooth to heal.
My head cleared and my mouth defrosted and much of the pain is gone. The dentist told me to see how I do and then in eight weeks come back so he can check on me and decide what needs to be done next.
As I sat in the chair, praying for God’s calm, I couldn’t help but compare my tooth to my life. Sometimes, there are areas of my life, particularly from my past, that I have covered over just like a cavity. Most of the time, I am able to ignore they were ever there and they don’t bother me at all. Every now and then, however, they will open up and I will need to deal with them. It might be as simple as giving the issue back over to God but it might mean that I have to address something that I have, in the past, chosen not to deal with and don’t feel equipped to deal with now. It might even be, as with my tooth, that the problem runs very deep and it will require a lot of probing, drilling and pain before I am able to recover and move forward.
I could have continued heating my drinking water and chewing on the other side of my mouth and there is a good chance I could have survived like that but as the pain in my tooth intensified, it radiated throughout my jaw and became headaches and as my body tried to fight it, I developed a fever. Such a tiny thing, a tooth, and yet the impact on my whole life was evident.
The dentist told me that if the new filling is not enough to stem the pain, he will have to do a root canal. That means, for those who have never had the pleasure, that he will drill and carve out the roots of the tooth until they are hollow and then fill them with something else. That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to me but I appreciate that there is a commitment to not giving up until the problem is made right. As long as the nerve is exposed or infection is set in, I will have a problem and it will only continue to grow. By faithfully probing and persisting, despite the pain, I will heal. This is no different than dealing with the sin in our lives. As long as we allow things to fester, they will continue to plague us. There is nothing easy about sin or its consequences, but God has promised us that
…as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
All God asks is that we turn our sins over to Him and allow Him to cleanse us through the blood of Jesus Christ. Are you willing to be set free from your pain today?
1 John 1:8
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.