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Ed Jordan: It only hurts when I breathe

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Posted: 2/24/17 at 8:30am. Column by Ed Jordan.

So, the last several weeks have been quite eventful for me. Following a week of non-existence due to the weird strain of flu making the rounds, I emerged from the flu with a mysterious pain in a couple of my teeth. I couldn’t isolate the pain, so I contacted a dentist, but the first available appointment was six days away. So I had a long week while trying to control the pain until I could get to see the dentist.

While prepping me for the exam, the dental assistant asked me if my tooth hurt in response to hot or cold temperatures. I said that I don’t really think it has anything to do with hot or cold liquids. I told her that it only hurts when I breathe. We both started laughing. Of course, the solution is to quit breathing, right?

Well, it turned out that my tooth is cracked, and the crack exposes the tooth’s nerve to the air moving across it. While there is pain all the time, the sharp, cringing pain only occurs when I breathe. By the way, the tooth will get fixed, and praise God for a great dentist!

It is so interesting that a crack or fissure so small that it only shows up on an x-ray can cause such pain. It is also interesting to realize that the non-visible fault-line may go deeper than it shows, and may crack further at a later time, even if you put a crown on it. So, the bad news is that I have been in pain for almost a week, and that pain was classified by the dentist as being a 9 on a scale of 10. The good news is that the pain will soon be removed, and that the whole event inspired a new column!

Reflect with me a few moments on some of the invisible fissures in our lives that are unnoticeably growing larger and are opening up our lives to dangerous things. Emotionally we live under tremendous stresses, which bring pressures to bear upon our mental and emotional stability. We can live under the stress and pressure for years, and then all of a sudden, wham! We suddenly react to pressures in uncharacterized ways. We lash out at someone, or we dump all the pressure that has been bottled up for years. We explode, and people get psychologically hurt.

Or perhaps we find our lives becoming physically more and more complicated. The bills keep going up while the income doesn’t, and more and more things are beyond our control. So as the pressure mounts, as does our blood pressure, our pulse, and the stress-released chemicals that control many of our body functions. One day out of nowhere comes a heart attack or stroke. Once that occurs, the injured body parts can be weakened and prone to more damage.

There are many things that are seemingly invisible and, yet, are assaulting our spiritual and moral lives each day. People who practice biblical morality are under constant pressure to abandon their values, compromise them, or even jettison them. Have you ever seen a section of concrete sidewalk that has a hole in it caused from continuous dripping of water, perhaps from a gutter leaking rain for over many months or years? Each drop is just a little drop, but with each drip and impact, the concrete is weakened.

So, how do we know that there are cracks in our lives? One indicator is pain. Pain is a warning sign that something is amiss. When we ignore the warning signs, the situation will only get worse. Another way to discover invisible cracks beginning in our lives is to present our lives to Jesus, the Great Physician. We can ask Jesus to reveal things in our lives that are potential problems and then yield those areas of our lives to Jesus who can correct the situation.

A third way is to monitor what types of things we are planting in our lives, and/or the lives of our family. As Galatians 6:7-9 says: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

May your life be free from invisible fissures that develop into cracks, breakdowns, and unnecessary pain.

ed-jordan2Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, Gwynn, VA. You may also read his past columns.

He can be reached at szent.edward@gmail.com.