Underneath Are the Everlasting Arms

I don’t do pain. When faced with it I run hard and fast in the opposite direction.

It was only when my pain superseded my fear that I picked up the phone and made the dreaded call to the oral surgeon. “Do you want to come in for a consultation, and then come back for the surgery?” the receptionist asked.

“No! No, that’s not a good idea. You better do all of it while I’m there, because chances are you will never get me back again!”

Monday morning, D-day, I tried not to think about the appointment scheduled for later that morning. Rounding the corner and into the dining room, I spied my husband Rob sitting at the table eating a huge bowl of cereal.

“What?” I quip, “I’m going to the gallows, and you’re eating cereal???” 

On the way out the door he says a rather strange thing, “Let us go to Bethlehem.”

It‘s only as I ease my body into the front seat of the car that I am hit with understanding, “I know why you said that! That’s where Herod killed all those baby boys.” Rob groans, and I settle in, certain my fate will be no better.

We arrive at the clinic all too soon. I exit the car, excuse myself and head for the ladies bathroom. The thought occurs that I could keep right on walking, across the hall, down the stairs, and out the door.

I see only two potential problems with that plan - it’s a long way home by foot, and where I go my throbbing tooth goes. I take care of business (s-l-o-w-l-y), and then head for Bethlehem.

I don’t want to be here. The hygienist calls my name, and I slowly follow like a lamb being led to the slaughter. My stomach threatens to erupt. Sure enough, an exam indicates surgery is necessary. I relax as the nitrous oxide does its blessed job, the sensation similar to takeoff on a jet plane. The way the surgeon is tugging and pulling I know that when the painkiller wears off, I’m really gonna’ be hurting.

From time to time panic pushes to the surface. I’m trapped. There’s no way out! I remember a scripture I taught each of my children when they were wee ones, “What time I am afraid I will trust in Thee.” (Psalm 55:3)

Other passages come to mind, and I repeat them mantra like over, and over, and over, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5) “Though wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.” (Isaiah 26:3)

All too soon the surgery is over.

I’ve survived. First I didn’t want to come; now I don’t want to go. Call it intuition, call it a word of knowledge but I suspect the worst is yet to come. Sure enough, I am right! The medication wears off, the pain settles in and I have the distinct sensation of being in transitional labour in my mouth. Additional pain meds are useless. The problem with unrelenting pain is that it is so unrelenting! There’s nowhere to hide; the only way out is through. I saw the surgeon twice more before there was relief.

A year later, my mouth was still numb.

Life’s like that sometimes. We hurt, and what’s supposed to make it better, only makes it worse. We want “it” fixed, right now. “I don’t do pain!” we loudly proclaim. When in the face of our strongest faith the pain persists, we panic. 

Pain is an unwelcome companion on our journey. It will walk with all of us at some time. When it does, and “it” can’t be fixed, the only thing to do is to relinquish it to the Father’s care. In His embrace we cease from our struggle and simply rest. He holds us tight, and we are not afraid for underneath are the everlasting arms.

Prayer:

“Lord, the valley is deep and the mountain is steep. My body is weary and I stumble and fall. The choices are hard and I’m battered and scarred. I’ve spent my resources and given my all. In your name, I will press on. With the prize clear before my eyes, I will find the strength to press on.” (Press On by Dan Burgess)