“Not a root canal! Isn’t there anything else you can do?” From the moment my dentist shook his head, I panicked. I feared the unknown. Countless voices peppered my brain as I recalled the “doom and gloom” root canal stories I’d heard.
“It’s the worse pain I’ve ever had! Next time I’ll have the tooth pulled.”
“I hope I don’t have to have a root canal.”
“My root canal lasted for three hours.”
No wonder I dreaded it. As soon I scheduled the appointment, I texted family and friends to request prayer. I trusted my dentist, but I didn’t know the endodontist, and thinking about this procedure produced sheer fright. I prayed and attempted to trust God, but my mind focused on the uncertainties. Would the new doctor be as gentle as my dentist? How much pain could I manage?
I took deep breaths and prayed again as soon as I arrived. When Dr. Lee touched the suspicious area with something cold to ensure she had the right tooth, I had a quick jump-to-the-ceiling pain. On a scale of one to ten, it was a ten for sure. However, after that, the process was almost painless. During the numbing injection, an assistant tapped my shoulder to distract me. I was so startled by her action I barely noticed the needle.
When holding my jaw open for so long became uncomfortable, I signaled the endodontist to insert a wedge between my back teeth providing relief. (My dentist had apprised me of this possibility for which I was thankful.) God had provided the skill of one professional and a tip from another to give me all I needed. From then on, I relaxed and remembered I could trust God, even in situations where the outcome was unknown. If I’d trusted Him sooner, I could have avoided anxiety, fear, and a sleepless night even in an uncomfortable situation.From then on, I relaxed and remembered I could trust God, even in situations where the outcome was unknown. - Jeannie Waters Click To Tweet
Fear of the unknown is a powerful device Satan uses to lure us into anxiety, worry, and doubt. This fear has multiple sources. Pending health reports, sick family members, election returns, career options, financial status, and fear of making the wrong decision are some of the issues that can plague us. Focusing on the accounts of other people, depending on our own internet research, or using our vivid imaginations more than we trust God can destroy our peace. Which fear of the unknown unsettles you the most?
Fear of making the wrong decision often steals my joy. Why? The reason is—like the root canal—I don’t know what the result will be. What if I make the wrong choice? Will I be able to recover from my mistake? Thoughts like these can creep in and overshadow my trust in God even when I pray.
Years ago, I confessed to my husband that when I arrive at a choice point, I imagine forks in the road labeled A and B. A or B possibilities might include whether to attend a conference, which of two topics to select for a writing piece, or a yes or no answer about a service opportunity at church. “What if God intends for me to choose A, but I choose B?” I asked my husband.
He wisely responded, “Well, do you think God could handle the situation if you make the wrong decision? Is He able to lead you from B to A? Could He use the B choice to enhance the A alternative?”
I was stunned, not by the wisdom of my husband, but by my lack of faith. His questions held a mirror to my thought processes and showed me who I was trusting—me, myself, and I. Prayer and reading Scripture provide guidance for decisions, but ultimately we must trust the Lord for the results.
Shortly after the conversation occurred, I was traveling out of town before the days of GPS phone assistance. When I finished my work assignment at a rural school, I made a wrong turn. While looking for the interstate highway that would take me home, I drove for miles down long country roads, past herds of cattle and stands of trees without one recognizable landmark. When I finally spotted an interstate sign, I made the turn, drove quite a distance, and approached the ramp. My relief was short-lived as I realized I was on the wrong interstate highway. A drive that should have taken forty-five minutes took almost two hours.
This trip gave me a good laugh later and reminded me of my husband’s wisdom about making choices at the “forks in the road.” I had arrived at the correct destination after taking wrong turns and traveling via the wrong interstate highway. My travel experience coupled with my husband’s questions strengthened my faith and reminded me I can trust God and avoid the fear of the unknown when making decisions.
Whether we face a root canal, an important decision, or any situation in which the outcome is obscured, we have a choice to make. Trusting God is the choice that moves us to faith beyond our fear. Placing our faith in our heavenly Father produces peace, even when results are unknown. With the Psalmist we can confidently say, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you (Psalm 56:3 NIV).
Consider these practical ways to move beyond fear of the unknown into faith:
- Use index cards to write verses that counteract fear and place them on your desk or in your purse. Refer to them when fear approaches.
- Sing hymns and choruses that affirm God’s trustworthiness.
- List prayer requests about fears of the unknown and record the ways God answers. Reviewing these answers later will remind you that your heavenly Father is worthy of your trust.
- Enlist a trusted friend to partner with you in prayer about fears of the unknown.
Jeannie Waters delights in sharing the encouragement of Christ through writing and speaking. She adores family gatherings, meeting new people, just-for-fun hiking, and the Georgia Bulldogs. A retired teacher, she currently teaches ESL.
Jeannie is a regular contributor to Refresh Bible Study Magazine and has contributed to the following compilations: Let the Earth Rejoice (Worthy Inspired), Breaking the Chains (Lighthouse Bible Studies), Just Breathe (Worthy), and Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character (Lighthouse Bible Studies). Visit Jeannie at www.jeanniewaters.com for ideas on Brightening Someone’s Day.