I hate teeth.
They make me a bit queasy to think about, and my one recurring nightmare involves my teeth loosening, aching, and falling out.
When I was a teenager and old enough to babysit or volunteer with kids, I found that children really love showing off their teeth. They are so excited about every loose tooth and new tooth and have this universal reaction to any change in their dental status: I need to show everyone.
Look at my loose tooth! Look at where I lost a tooth. Look at a new tooth growing in!
They’re thrilled and rightfully so.
Me, not so much. I hate seeing teeth wiggle around and hold on by the strands.
I’d try to keep my cool when these little ones showed off their pearly whites with pride. I’d nod my head and muster up some celebratory joy: “Wow, look at that loose tooth. Amazing! Won’t be long now.”
Then I’d avert my eyes as soon as I possibly could because a loose tooth was way gross to me.
When I had my wisdom teeth out as a teenager, it took some courage for a girl who hates teeth. I slid into the chair and gripped my hands together across my middle. I didn’t know the doctor, but he went over everything with me and then said something about the nerves and how they were entwined with the root and there was the possibility, although rare, that there would be a complication and I would have difficulty talking or singing after the procedure. But it’d probably be fine.
Then he started to work, only to find that I don’t respond normally to numbing and need extra medication in order for me not to feel what he was doing in there with all of his metal tools.
But here’s the thing, I was a scared teenage girl who didn’t like teeth about to undergo a dental procedure that was already off to a rocky start and then I heard the Beatles.
The radio station they were playing in the dentist office that day had kicked off a Beatles weekend and the Beatles were (are) my super favorite. So, I breathed in a little breath and prayed out a little prayer: “Thanks, Lord, for the little reminder that you see me down here and are with me.” And I sang in my head to Beatles tunes while the dentist worked.
That was 20 years ago, and I still remember that little kiss of God’s kindness.
We have these moments, all of us, where we’re tumbled into a pit of fear or darkness. We have to face our greatest nightmare. The very worst thing, the thing we hoped would never happen, sometimes happens.
Sometimes we’re simply overwhelmed, the little things have piled up into one big massive, overwhelming thing.
Or perhaps we’re so exhausted and weary and our soul feels heavy-laden indeed.
Perhaps out of nowhere, we’re hit with conflict. We had peace, and then there was war. People against us. People attacking us.
There is loss and sadness, anxiety and fatigue.
But there is also Jesus.
There is, most importantly, Jesus.
In some of those seasons when I wondered if He could possibly even see me still, that’s exactly when He’d show me kindness, a little blessing in the day, a pick-me-up, a joy.
It was enough to know that He saw me and hadn’t forgotten me, that I was in His sights and in His mind. It was enough to know that because He was with me, I could make it one more step, one more day…and on and on until I could fully overcome.
The Psalmist prays:
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings (Psalm 36:7).
Kindness is compassion and sensitivity to need, and God’s kindness is a sign of His loyal love for us.
His greatest act of merciful kindness to us was sending Jesus.
Titus tells us that:
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. (Titus 3:4-5 NIV).
and Paul tells us the same:
in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7 NIV).
We didn’t merit salvation. We weren’t good enough. We hadn’t earned it in anyway, and yet Jesus poured Himself out for us because of His deep and abiding lovingkindness.
And that kindness continues. He brings us moments of refreshing and breezes of peace. He brings us reminders of His affection and signs of His love right when we need them most.