When my daughter, Reiley, was 11, I took her to the dentist to have her teeth cleaned. Her x-ray showed that inside one of her teeth was a large cavity, which wasn’t remotely visible on top of her tooth…and had no pain at all. Without the x-ray, we never would have known it was there. The decay was so large it was almost touching her nerve! The doctor said that could lead to a possible root canal.
From the moment my daughter heard the word “root canal” and the potential procedure and pain that could come along with it, she was officially frightened. All through the night, and all the next morning, she fought back tears just anticipating the procedure. My husband and I reassured her, hugged her, told her about our childhood experiences getting cavities filled…but, none of it gave her relief.
In any normal, daily circumstance, I am the comforter for my children, while my husband is often at work for those moments. But, in this situation, he was off duty from the fire station and came with us. We arrived at the dentist, and my husband wanted to be with her. He told me to wait in the waiting room with our five-year old. I was fine with that. I could see his concern for Reiley, and knew that he wanted to see her through it.
I sat in the waiting room of the dentist, waiting on my daughter and husband to come out. Within 15 minutes after her appointment started, I decided to walk down the hall to see how things were going. I was so worried that the doctor would get into the tooth and discover that she did need the root canal, after all. Knowing how scared she was, I felt horrible for her. Even though Daddy was back there, maybe she needed “Mommy,” after all…the real comforter, like mine was for me.
Peeking into the door of her room, I saw the doctor leaning into her mouth, and the nurse gave me a “thumbs up” and a smile. Reiley was lying in a reclined position, shredding a Kleenex all over her lap with nervousness. But, my husband is what took me by surprise…
I was fully imagining that he’d be sitting in the corner reading a magazine, or on his cell phone, oblivious to Reiley’s need of assurance. Maybe he assumed that just being in the room was somehow “enough”.
But, Steve was standing, bent over Reiley’s chair, watching everything the doctor was doing, and comforting Reiley. He was standing where she could see and sense him. He was smiling and winking at her, and was ready to hand her another Kleenex (to shred), or his hand to hold…if that’s what she needed to help her cope with her painful and fearful circumstances.
Knowing her fear, and that she had to go through some pain in order to get well and be “improved”, he didn’t want her to go through it alone. Though he was strong and had personally experienced worse pain in his own life…he knew that she hadn’t. Therefore, his empathy for how she felt going through unknown circumstances drew him straight to her side like glue, with love.
After 35 years of reading and hearing about what God is like, I finally had a real-life illustration that hit my heart like Cupid’s arrow…through my husband’s actions. Though Jesus went through far worse than anything I’ve ever experienced, He has great empathy for my situation…whatever that might be…and never leaves me.
Jesus wept with Mary and Martha over Lazarus….even though He was about to bring him back to life. He was filled with compassion for the sick and downtrodden everywhere He turned, and healed them all as He went.
I am drawn to the God who cries with me, like close friends and family often do. And Who stays beside me, and wants to reassure and comfort me. Jesus Christ is God (Isaiah 45:22; John 1:1, 14; 20:24-28). I didn’t know that until I was 26.
He’s there; I just need to look up from my own “dental chair” of problems and struggles, and know that He’s winking at me and ready to hand me a tissue (which He’s done countless times at church through the hands of my Christian friends in whom He indwells), or make the whole problem just miraculously go away; whatever He deems necessary for my life at the time.
I have learned that my Lord…my incredibly loving Father… and I will go through the pains of life together, just as my husband chose to do with our daughter: “Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.”
“Even when I walk through the valley of death, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” (Psalm 23: 1-4)
“I will be with them in trouble.” (Psalm 91:15b)