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Dental Chair Theology 23rd August, 2010

Posted by Scotty in Life.

I pray more while in the dental chair than in any other place or at any other time.  This is something I realized recently.

As I lie back in the chair and the dentist reaches his tools toward my mouth I begin to pray.  I don’t have time to think up long elaborate prayers, I just cry out to God for mercy.  If I’m getting a filling, from the time the drilling starts to when I leave the dentist I pray a simple prayer over and over and over… “Lord, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.   Lord, have mercy.”

I was at the dentist for two hours today finishing up some work on my teeth before I head to Scotland.  In my years going back and forth to the dentist I always dread hearing the words: “you need a filling”.  I have an allergic reaction to certain anaesthetics–some screw up my system; some cause swelling; others… just don’t seem to work.  Growing up, it didn’t matter how much anaesthetic the dentist used, I always felt the drill.  (And let’s not talk about what it’s like to go to the doctor and get stitches.  Usually, I just have to grit my teeth!!!)  The dentist has never been a pleasant experience for me.  (Actually, because of it… I absolutely hate my teeth!)

The last few times I’ve been in the dentist chair I came to a realization that I’d been praying those words over and over.  Scattered in between was the prayer… “Please don’t let it hurt”.  My mind always works at 100 miles an hour so as usual I drifted off on a rabbit trail… why here?  why the dentist?  what is it about this experience that makes me cry out to God?  It has nothing to do with the dentist… It has everything to do with pain.  It’s about my reaction to suffering.  I cry out for God’s mercy at the dentist because I think I’m about to experience pain.  I cry out for Him to ease it.  Regardless of the outcome, the thought of pain (or experiencing pain) causes me to call on Him.

Why would God allow suffering?  I don’t like suffering.  I wish no-one had to suffer or experience hardship, but as I look at my own life I see that it’s in the times of pain and suffering that I call out to God the most.  It’s in those moments that I realize I’m not the one who’s in control, and my soul calls out to the one who is.  Regardless of whether the suffering is eased or not… I call on the mercy of God.  I need pain and suffering to teach me endurance and to remind me of who is in control!

The dentist is one of those places where we realize how not-in-control we are.  In the dentist chair we place ourselves at the mercy of someone who has the ability to cause us pain.  (In fact, we pay the man or woman to inflict us with pain–The sick irony?!?!  Haha).   When we experience no pain or suffering we slip into cruise control and think we are in control of life.  We do our own thing:  we are independent, feeling like we run our world.  But pain, suffering, and the consequences of our actions awaken us to the harsh reality that we’re not in control.  Someone else is.

I hate pain.  I hate suffering.  I long for the day written about in Scripture where there will be no more pain and no more sorrow.  In the meantime, I will do my best to live what Paul and James say and “rejoice in my sufferings”, because those sufferings draw us to God and are used by Him to soften our hearts, to cause us to rely on Him, and to shape us to be more like Jesus.

Who’d have thought I’d have such a profound worship experience in a dentist chair.

Thank you God for revealing Yourself to me.  I love you Lord, but I still hate the dentist.



1. Sue - 23rd August, 2010

Dr. Jon Bletscher is a no pain kinda dentist and he’s GREAT! PS. CAN YOU TAKE GAS cause it sounds like you would really enjoy it! I do! :o) Hey wait, you’re married to a dental hygienist!!@!! lol

2. Hartford City Dentist - 25th August, 2010

yes it true when the dentist used sedation dentistry there wouldnt be a problem

3. Scotty - 25th August, 2010

Hey Sue. I was never given the option of laughing gas when I was younger. I got a tooth out once and they gave me a general anaestethic. But for the most part my experience was “let’s see if we can manage without the anaesthetic”. This was back a few years ago though, and I know dental technology has advanced a lot in the last 10 years.

The only time I’ve had an anaesthetic and not felt a thing… Mon took me in early and took the time to make sure I was completely numb. I was really grateful, but anxious the whole time wondering when I would feel it.

I went to Dr. Bletscher once. He did a great job.

4. Sue Bastiani - 29th August, 2010

I sooo understand! When I was growing up..you didn’t go to the dentist (at least in my family) until something was infected and killing you! That happened to me several times and like you, it was NEVER a pleasant experience! arrggghhh. So glad Doc Bletscher came to our church and became our friend…and then so glad that Judy Nelson talked me into trying gas for the first time! lolol Like I need any reason to laugh…HA So excited you must be, to be going home again and with your bride! I know we will see you sometime…you’re connected now to many people who love you here! Safe travels and Bon Voyage!

5. dasd - 31st May, 2011


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