Aches and Pains

What started as a little pain, has become a constant throbbing in my mouth. Yes, I have a tooth ache, and when I was finally able to get into the dentist office this week, the culprit was a cracked tooth.

I’m receiving my first crown.

I wish I could say it was a heavenly one, but no, this one will be a tight-fighting porcelain one needed to hold my old tooth together. The problem is — I have to wait another month to get it!

If there’s anything to make us long for our crown it’s pain.

I could go many directions with this post, but I’m going to remain mission-focused, as my repeated throbbing has reminded me of past dental experiences during my over twenty-five-year mission career.

It started on this side of the ocean, when I was just a young college graduate, ready to spend two years in Ivory Coast, West Africa. Worried that my wisdom teeth might decide to make their entrance into the world during my time overseas, I took a pre-emptive trip to the dentist and had all four of mine cut out.

There are just some things better taken-care-of before you go.

I was blessed to enjoy good dental health for the next stage of ministry, as I served with my husband in the Middle East and North Africa. Most of my visits to the dentist took place during furloughs, but Raouf was not so lucky. He became good friends with dentists in Lebanon, Tunisia, and Egypt, as they dealt with various issues that come with growing older. I can still remember a trip to a dentist in Tunis, where he probably should have been more selective. Experiencing pain, the doctor told him to bite down on a piece of wood. Raouf looked at him in wonder and looked at the piece of wood, hesitating mainly because it didn’t look like he’d been the first to sink his teeth into it!

He survived, thankfully, and by the time we moved to Egypt, we, along with our two growing sons, were all having yearly checkups with a local dentist. He was very professional and clean and also much cheaper than dentists in the States.

It’s good to know what medical care looks like before you move.

David with his broken arm in Tunis

This doesn’t mean you won’t go to a certain country, but you will need to make sure you know where to go, if an emergency medical crisis occurs. Children’s experiences with fixing broken arms can require a lot of prayer and trust, when they are whisked off into an elevator for surgery without you by their side, especially when doctors and nurses don’t speak English.

Financial considerations and organizational policies can keep family members from being able to stay together when one person is sick and requires travel to another country or the States for treatment. I’ll never forget how hard it was to see my husband travel to the Gulf States for medical attention, when I knew he was in severe pain.

Wherever we are, medical crises are opportunities the Lord uses to increase our faith.

After a fitful night’s sleep, I wrote in my prayer journal this morning: Lord, please ease the pain, but also show me what you want me to learn through it.

Has the Lord taught you lessons through medical emergencies or just simple trips to the doctor overseas? What have you faced where he’s shown up and wowed you by his presence? How are you helping your children to visit the doctor or dentist without fear?

Never had the adventure of visiting a doctor overseas? Don’t feel left out! You can pray for those who are struggling to find good care, especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pray for missionaries who are in pain and need relief. Pray for God to speak through the patient to the physician on behalf of the Great Physician.

No pain? No gain–even for his Kingdom.

Grace and Peace

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