Dental hygienist (14-02-2023)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.(1 John 4:7-12)
I don’t know about you but I do not enjoy going to the dentist, so when a few weeks ago my dentist suggested that it would be a good idea if I went to see the dental hygienist for a 30 minute appointment to have those really difficult to reach places between my teeth cleaned, I wasn’t too keen on going. However, I knew it would be good for my teeth, so I booked the appointment and dutifully turned up on the day. After all how bad could it be, it would all be over in 30 minutes, which is what I kept telling myself.
I lay down on the hygienist’s chair, put on the protective glasses, closed my eyes and waited for it all to be over. I decided, quite quickly, that I needed something to distract me from what was happening in my mouth, so I thought it would be a really good idea to sing some of my favourite hymns and songs in my head. I needed to concentrate on remembering the lyrics and I hoped that would take my mind off my current situation. It was all going well until I chose to sing ‘Blessed be the name of the Lord’ (MP 1036). It is a hymn about praising God in all circumstances but I had forgotten that the second verse has the words “Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering, though there’s pain in the offering, blessed be Your name.” I almost laughed out loud at the lyrics which were supposed to be distracting me from the idea of pain. Pain is not something that we can avoid, it is a part of life.
Over the past week, like many of you, I have been moved by the images of the terrible earthquake in Turkey and Syria. There have been scenes of such pain as people grieve over the loss of loved ones. But there has also been so much love that has been apparent in the response to the disaster, both in the countries where it happened and also from around the rest of the world. So much pain, but also so much love.
Today is Valentine’s Day, a day which is associated with romance and love, but for many it will be a time of pain, either for love that has been lost or for love that never happened. Some will ask where God is in all this, does he understand what people are going through? Yes, he understands, for we are told in the gospels that God is Love and that he loved us so much that he sent his Son to die for us. Love and pain went hand in hand, even for God. I was reminded of an old hymn that we usually sing at Easter, the last verse of which says: (MP 478)
Here might I stay and sing, no story so divine;
never was love, dear King, never was grief like Thine.
This is my friend, in whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.
Today, on Valentine’s Day, let us remember with thanks all those who have loved us and also let us remember all those who are suffering pain and grief because of love.
Father God, we thank you for your love for us. Please enfold all those suffering today from the pain of loss within your love.