God, the Dentist

31 Jul

Heading to the Cathedral for Mass one night, I decided to arrive early to pray. I was dressed for coffee shop coolness–black pants and a long-sleeved flannel. The Cathedral was hot. Breezing (there was no breeze) into my usual mid-section pew, I unzipped my Bible case, and slipped off my flip-flops. I can discretely take off my shoes in the comfort of my own home, right?

I opened my Bible to the day’s Mass reading from Hosea (2:16-22). First of all, I must confess that I read the wrong verses. My bad. But Jesus spoke to me anyway. He always does. If you’ve never read Hosea, I highly recommend it both, because it’s the Word of God, and, because it’s about a cool guy (Hosea—or “Zea” if you’re tight with him) and his prostitute wife. Throughout my life, the Lord has spoken to me a lot through Zea. Tonight was no different.

I busted through the passage once pinpointing a verse that struck me: “You shall call me ‘My husband,’ and you shall never again call me ‘My Baal.’” I like it. Approved.

After taking a few moments to think about it and count the doves above the altar, I took a second glance. This time a different verse caught my attention: “I will make you lie down in safety.” (Hosea 2:18) Now that is a juicy verse. Lord, you’ll make me lie down in safety?

My nephew, Gabe, is a little over 18 months old. Every night before bed, my sister and bro-in-law brush his teeth. He HATES it. Torture. Agony. 1.5 minutes of misery. Poor little dude. But it’s a necessary pain, right? If the forced tooth brushing wasn’t inflicted, he would get cavities. His teeth would rot. It would be gross. And I would love him less. Kidding.

Can’t every one of us think of a necessary suffering that leads to something good? Of course, we have our Lord’s ultimate suffering for us—the greatest tooth brushing of them all. And then there are the rest of us, trying really hard to be good people. Going the extra mile to grow in faith. Honestly, the past several months have been a pretty crazy tooth-brushing session for me. God has been doing some major dental work, getting all of the spiritual coffee stains, corncob remnants, and burger grease off. It doesn’t feel good. But is it worth it? Is my suffering worthwhile? Yes. An absolute and exuberant “yes.”

Now let’s go back to Hosea: “I will make you lie down in safety.”

If tooth brushing is necessary in our mouth and in a spiritual sense, then what areas do we need to surrender? What sufferings have I been fighting because they don’t feel good—things that I need to abandon to God for my own benefit? Thank God He has led us to be open to a good hard tooth brushing. It’s in that painful cleansing that we are made to lie down in safety.

-Gretchen Sonnen

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