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“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13, KJV).
For most of us on the planet, life has been turned upside down over the last few months. An event that no one (or possibly very few) living today personally remember has taken the world by storm, and many are struggling to adjust to a new way of life. Society appears to be fragmenting, not just across the country but around the globe. Just before all these things began, I moved to Kenya to start a dental clinic in a rural mission hospital. This is something that has been on my heart for many years. I have been here a few months tackling Swahili, and now I am working to acquire materials and doing administrative groundwork for the clinic. There are many days when I feel like I’m running an uphill marathon.
I know it’s not a new concept, but it was new to me and may be new to you as well. It’s a way to get your mind to sit still and focus on the Word of God and hear His voice. You pick a short verse or verse portion and repeat it by saying the first half as you breathe in and finishing it as you breathe out.
“Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28, NKJV).
As healthcare professionals, we know our patients have brains, we know they have hearts. We know these exist because we can see them and study them. They are physical, they are material. But is there a part of us that is immaterial, or is this just a lie we’ve bought into? If so, how can we possibly know it?
COVID-19 has upended our routines, but the spirit-filled life remains as accessible as ever. I am, by God’s grace, optimistic. Ask the people who know me best, and they’d all agree I tend to find the sunniest take on nearly everything, sometimes to the point of annoyance.
Emergency appointments are a big part of our duties and schedules at Christ Community Health Center where I work in Memphis, Tennessee. We have a walk-in day once a week at four out of our five clinics, and we also take several walk-ins on other days at each of our clinics. So, transitioning to only emergencies did not feel too weird, it just made our schedules lighter. During this pandemic, I’m thankful we as dentists can provide much-needed emergency services to treat pain, keep people out of the emergency room or give someone a quick-fix to hold them off until they can have more work done.
“Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him…‘Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us…and opened the Scriptures to us?’…‘The Lord is risen indeed…” (Luke 24:31-34, NKJV).
“The Lord is risen indeed.”
On Sunday morning, March 29, after two weeks of “15 Days to Slow the Spread,” I read the 24th chapter of Luke’s Gospel. It all fell into place. Life had changed so much. So much had disappeared—quick trips to the convenience store, meetings with dentists, friends dropping by and dinner out. Life had become both still and different. Busy-ness no longer drowned out worry. There were no distracting deadlines to offer escape from relational struggles. Reflecting back, for two weeks the quiet had given way to a still small voice and the still small voice had been wrongly identified as the insight of an uncluttered mind. Luke’s telling of the walk to Emmaus cleared up that confusion for me.
When somebody asks me why I am a Christian, I give them two reasons.
Reason #1: Because I met Jesus and He radically changed my heart (my personal testimony).
Reason #2: Because there is excellent objective evidence that Christianity is true.
It happened so quickly, it seems. One moment it was business as usual: reviewing lab cases, getting ready for boards, opening our practice doors for patients to arrive, joking with staff and colleagues throughout the day and planning to attend the next mission trip, church service, conference, wedding or other event. It feels as if we all became affected at the same time. In an instant those jokes were replaced by concern as dental boards were put on hold, our office closed to routine dental care, we became unemployed or we put some of our staff on unemployment to keep the practice afloat in the midst of uncertainty. Our plans got cancelled one by one, our normal way of life crumbled. It’s now challenging to find one broadcast, social media post, YouTube video, email or conversation that does not mention “virus,” “pandemic” or “COVID-19”.
The first introduction to opioids for teenagers and young adults is often in the dentist’s office when they are prescribed pain medications following oral surgery. However, because opioid prescriptions may be associated with subsequent opioid abuse in this patient population, alternative therapies for managing acute dental pain may be warranted.
One of the worship songs this morning at church was “Peace Be Still” (featuring Lauren Daigle). I had never heard it before, but it stirred up various thoughts I’ve had and set them together like puzzle pieces. I have many times been like the disciples or Peter in the midst of “storms.” I’ve been dismayed that, from my perspective, Jesus could be asleep while something so crazy is happening in my life. I have also been in seasons where things are so great and then, all of a sudden, I realize I’m out on the water and freak out and let myself sink. Both times, Jesus has been with me, just like He was with them. Merciful Savior, asking me how I could doubt because He was there the entire time and is more powerful than any storm.
“Then Jethro rejoiced for all the good which the LORD had done for Israel, whom He had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians…And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening…So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people…will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself’” (Exodus 18:9-18, NKJV).