Dentist Chairs and the Nearness of God

God is Always with Me

 

“You’re doing great, Patty. We’re almost done.” His words brought hope but what I wanted to hear sounded more like “All done.” Why does thirty-six percent of the population fear the dentist? I’m not sure but I’m one of the thirty-six percent.

 

As I sat there doing my best to breathe through my nose and benefit from the nitrous oxide, two thoughts ran parallel through my mind.

 

The first—a simple statement I’ve instilled in my children. “God is always with me.” These words have brought comfort at bedtime, before important tests, and in the battle against the “what if” monsters which hide in the closet of their thoughts.

 

And now they brought comfort to me—a seminary student on the cusp of graduation—my mind filled with so much theology—who could iterate none of it.

 

We often pray for God to meet us in this place, or to show up, or make yourself known. Although we know He is with us, never left, and is continually making Himself known, we often forget and reduce Him down to finite conditions.

 

In reality, God is infinite, powerful, and ever-present in our lives.

 

Hold My Hand

 

Along with this mantra—on repeat in my head—was a longing for someone to hold my hand. I almost asked the assistant if she would, but thought she’d better do her job instead. And yet—in the midst of my anxiety—I longed for human contact.  Just as my children will fill my lap in search of reassuring arms when they are scared, I desperately needed someone to physically assure me all would be well.

 

One of the earliest lessons I learned in seminary was the incarnation of Christ. That Jesus, remaining fully God, became fully human for our sakes. God put on skin for us.

 

What might we learn from Christ’s example? And my dental appointment?

 

Lessons Learned

 

God is always with us. In his final moments with the disciples Christ commissioned them to go into all the world but gave them the reassurance that “I am with you always,” (Matthew 28:19–20). In his final words of exhortation, the writer of Hebrews reminds believers God has promised, “Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5).

 

As followers of Christ, this is a message to internalize and communicate to others. “God is always with me,” does not act as a simple anecdote to cure childhood anxieties, it’s a profound truth.

 

Next, knowing that God is always with us does not erase the need for human contact. Social media, in its attempts to shrink the gap in human connection, has actually created a chasm. Comments of “I’m praying for you” have replaced the physical nearness God designed us to experience and crave. When God created Adam, he proclaimed, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18).

 

This need for kinship threads itself throughout the Bible:

 

  • In God’s instructions found in the books of the Law as to the Israelites were to care for each other and outsiders.
  • In the way Ruth commits herself to Naomi despite the difficulties to come.
  • In the friendship of Jonathan and David.
  • In God’s instructions to the Israelites to live their lives fully even in exile.
  • In the rejoicing between Elizabeth and Mary in their pregnancies.
  • In the calling of the disciples.
  • In the way Christ met the physical needs of others.
  • In the way the early church served one another sharing all they had.

 

We can do the same by treating others with dignity regardless of their social dynamic. We can choose to lean into friendships and care for family members—especially in difficult times. We can do as Romans 12:15 says and rejoice with those who have hope and grieve with those who feel grief.

 

God is always with us and this is a truth we must carry with us and share with others.

As image bearers, we must also begin again to hold the hands of those who need to know the tangible nearness of God.

 

 

 

 

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