Toothaches and Miracles

November 9, 2006

Two days ago I was at Starbucks studying. Starbucks, or sometimes Panera, are really the only places I can study. If I study at home I think of something else I could be doing, mostly watching TV. Starbucks provides just enough people watching and distraction to keep my stimulus hungry brain satiated. I can usually be found in a large plushy purple velvet chair, which is how all armchairs should be really. velvet purple chair

This particular study time lasted five hours as I studied for and took a Theology midterm. I was testing a few psychological theories. One is that you should study for an exam the same place you study for it. Another is that you should drink the same drink when you study and when you test. Another is that you should be in the same psychological state. I think the last one is impossible but that’s just my opinion. The others were worth testing. I don’t know if it worked but I liked taking a test at Starbucks. Maybe when I get my test back I’ll know.

As I began my study time I was munching on a delicious slice of pumpkin loaf as I sipped my grande nonfat no water chai. The loaf was a little cold, because Starbucks is usually pretty cold, but otherwise this was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. And then there was a problem. The usually smooth and creamy texture of my pumpkin loaf now had little hard bits in it. Even more unusually, these bits were only on the left side of my mouth. A queasy feeling developed in my stomach. I found a bit and took a good look at it and I know, this is a piece of my tooth. I resolve to ignore it. I don’t even feel around my mouth to try to discover where it has come from. I can’t. Whatever it is must be ignored. We cannot afford anything to go wrong in my mouth.

Earlier this year I went to the dentist for a toothache. It turned out to be a root canal. By the way, these are really not that bad but easy to mik for sympathy. Anyway, this root canal and one cavity completely drained my share of the dental insurance. At the time we had to pay for one cavity out of pocket because it couldn’t wait until January. Not too bad, but certainly not in the budget.

So, here I am again. I’ve got a tooth problem. I’ve got no more budget for tooth problems. So, we’re back to my resolve to ignore it. This lasted one day. I finally checked out the spot and felt a large, pointy hole between two teeth. Not good. I’ve lost a filling in this same place before but this hole is in a new tooth. As much as I’d like to ignore it, I know that my dentist will take a peek at no charge. On the way home from my painfully boring biology class I drop by my dentist. The news is not good.

The dental assistant takes a peek and says that that spot needs a filling soon or else it too will be a root canal. Then she takes her little picky hook thing and starts poking at other teeth. I did not ask for this service. She tells me that I’ve got two other cavities that need to be filled. Then she just starts in telling me that they can all be done at once and when she can get me in and on and on. I interrupt and tell her that I don’t have the money for that. She didn’t like that one bit. Not one bit. We discussed and she convinced me to consider just getting my x-rays done and then we can really decide what needs to be done and when. After talking with James, I think this will be the best decision. It makes sense to do it.

Now, you have to understand something. When I say that we don’t have the money I don’t mean it literally. We have plenty in savings. I just don’t want to use it. This isn’t my first medical expense and any other sickly wife out there can relate with me. After a few unexpected medical bills the guilt starts to pile on. James doesn’t do the piling, I do. I just feel badly that I’m like this black hole for money. I also want a new sofa.

This morning I woke up around five am and couldn’t get back to sleep because I was worried about this tooth that was actually starting to hurt me now that somebody had decided to poke their miniature sickle into the hole. I’m tossing and turning and trying to get the thing off my mind. I tell myself that we’ll be able to pay for it and it’s okay. It is okay. Then something occurs to me. Maybe I could pray that God would heal it. I silently pray a couple of truly earnest requests but am aware that these prayers aren’t exactly packed with faith.

I believe that God still performs miracles today. I don’t think he ever stopped even if church history tries to tell me otherwise. My lack of faith that God would heal my tooth isn’t about God’s ability but His willingness. I doubt that God would do this thing for me. This got me thinking about miracles in general. I wonder if Jesus would have healed the blind man if he had the money to go to a doctor and get it fixed. Is God a need based miracle worker? However I may answer this, my actions say that I think He is. Then I wonder if it’s okay to pray for a miracle, even if you have the means. I tend to think it is. I think you’ve got to be willing to do what it takes but you also have to leave God room to take care of it too.

This reminds me of a friend of James’ who would take him out to breakfast and say something like, “I just know the Lord will provide for this meal”. This friend had the means to pay for it, but he had faith. Miraculously, every meal God would provide, through James’ pocket. Miracle or stinginess? Hmmm.

This also makes me think about my theology on blessings. Are blessings need based or simply the pleasure of the king. I know it’s the latter but I act like it’s the former.

This semester I’ve learned so much about the fact that we all have a theology whether we acknowledge it or not. These thoughts are me trying to wrestle with what I think and what I do and trying to get them to match. While I question if any of us will really figure any of it out I think it blesses God when we seek to understand Him more and love him better. I at least have one theological point down.

I wonder if you have any thoughts on the matter.

Well, I’ve done it. I said I wouldn’t write long blogs but here it is. If you don’t have one, you should get a blog. It’s cathartic.


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