40 Days of Prayer

Day 25: Long in the tooth

January 25, 2019

My Image

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?
Jeremiah 8:22

From Our “Here”…

Perhaps you’ve heard the old expression for old age. “Long in the tooth” generally means old or worn out. The saying probably connects with our gums’ tendency to recede from our teeth and make them appear longer in our later years. Teeth, however, are actually ground down and get shorter with advanced age. Maybe the expression should be “short in the tooth.”

When we lived in Sierra Leone, my dad’s sister and her husband paid us a visit. Aunt Mary worked as a dental hygienist, so when she offered to give basic dental care to some of the students attending our little Bible school, people were ecstatic. Her “basic” ministrations ended up being the extraction of at least one molar, as I remember. And that without benefit of Novocaine. Brother Andrew was simply glad to have a qualified person who could pull the tooth that must have been giving him considerable pain for months.

Whenever I remember Andrew’s groans in our living room as Aunt Mary “rocked” that tooth with grim determination, I thank God for the painkillers I’ve enjoyed during each of my dental procedures through the years.

When Aunt Mary and Uncle Bill headed home, she donated her tools to the mission in case anyone else needed a worrisome bit of their smile removed. Mom offered first aid to local families, but I don’t remember that she ever ventured into dentistry. I don’t think those tools were ever used for their intended purpose.

However, we did return from one family trip to discover our home burglarized (not an uncommon event) and Dad’s small office safe emptied of several local churches’ meager funds. The tools used to twist apart an opening in the small sheet-metal compartment? Aunt Mary’s surgical steel dental pliers.

…To God’s “There”

In the United States, we might take for granted the availability of good dental care. Countless communities around the world are not so blessed. Missionaries who journey with the gospel to far-off locations can encounter a dearth of other healthcare services as well. Often, one of the sacrifices of serving overseas is not receiving needed medical attention at the moment of a crisis. Long and difficult travel may be required, and the end result might not be as positive as when better care is available.
If you keep on the refrigerator or in your Bible the prayer cards of missionaries you support, take time regularly to intercede for their healthcare needs. Pray not only for their physical safety from accident or illness, but pray for God’s intervention and for providentially provided medical treatment when needed.

Making the Leap

If you sense God’s call on your life to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, one of your personal steps of faith is your willingness to give up much of the safety net of public services you may have enjoyed in the past. Recognize that God is faithful. He will care for you wherever He may lead you. Trust Him each step of that journey.

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