The past two weeks have been Dentist-Palooza here at our household. Last week, FOML4 had two wisdom teeth removed, in preparation for his looming mission application. My EC got a lovely new crown that was long overdue. As of this week, FOML5 is officially wearing braces, and bravely wears the title of “Brace Face.” To prep for the braces, the dentist removed two of his teeth, and wired things to correct his bite. (Yes, he’s still hurting a bit. So is my wallet.)
Thankfully, our dental health professionals are equipped with technology to dull the pain far beyond a trusty bottle of Jack Daniels.
Anesthesia. Whether it be from injections or gas, pain can be effectively obliterated. If you want to have a pain-free experience AND avoid the horrid sounds and smells, you can even opt for full-out sedation dentistry.
Basically, they completely knock you out, do the work, then wake you back up. Nice. What a blessing it is for us in all fields of dentistry and medicine. In the days before anesthesia it was…shall we say… rough.
It takes a good deal of training to know how to effectively administer anesthetics. Some people study for years to be anesthetists or anesthesiologists. And aren’t we glad they do?
About a year ago, I was talking with my friend Mike in the front seat of his car. He is the type of friend where you can get talking, and before you know it, someone is calling, and you are in trouble for not being somewhere you were supposed to be.
Out of the blue, Mike said to me,
“You know if Jesus is The Great Physician,” wouldn’t Satan be considered The Great Anesthetist?”
I want to spend a moment looking at both halves of his statement, and seeing how it plays out. Because frankly, I LIKE anesthesia…
Jesus Christ: The Great Physician
Throughout the New Testament we find story after story of Christ healing both the physical and spiritual infirmities of those around him. One of the many examples is the wonderful story of the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda. If you want to read the story, here is the link. John 5:1-9
When Christ appeared to the Nephites, he immediately stepped into the role of Physician, when he extended the invitation,
“Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.” (3 Nephi 3:7)
The Apostle David A. Bednar made the link to Christ ability to heal us spiritually when he said, “The Savior is often referred to as the Great Physician, and this title has both symbolic and literal significance. All of us have experienced the pain associated with a physical injury or wound. …From the Atonement of the Savior flows the soothing salve that can heal our spiritual wounds and remove guilt.” (link)
The Great Physician, one of many noble titles for our Savior.
Satan: The Great Anesthetist
So how do I equate to Satan being The Great Anesthetist when I spent the first part of the blog singing the praises of anesthesia? Simple: Satan doesn’t care about you sleeping through a tooth extraction or an appendectomy. He has a much bigger ambitions: He wants to numb our spirits, and see to it that we sleep through life.
How does he do this? Last year, President Uchtdorf itemized three specific ways that we can be put to sleep, and miss out on what matters. I’m sure there are many more, but here are the three that he listed:
• Competing Priorities
Read the talk – it is terrific: “Are You Sleeping Through the Restoration?”
The adversary would love for us to be so caught up in other things that we become spiritually numb. Asleep? Even better.
Satan would also love nothing more that to see us cut ties with our Father. Elder Eyring touched on this in a BYU address when he said: “…one of the effects of disobeying God seems to be the creation of just enough spiritual anesthetic to block any sensation as the ties to God are being cut. Not only did the testimony of truth slowly erode, but even the memories of what it was like to be in the light began to seem to him like a delusion.” (Link)
A numb spirit = score one for the adversary.
These are very individual, and personal things. But I would suggest that Satan has successfully “sedated” enough people – as to the things of God – that that numbness is being felt throughout our society, both nationally and worldwide. In turn, that numb society sings a lullaby to put everyone to sleep. And that lullaby is often heard in within the very membership of the Church: “Things are fine. We are catching up to the world. Everyone needs to just chill.”
“And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateththeir souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.” (2 Nephi 28:21)
As Father Lehi begged his sons in his dying breaths:
“Oh that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awfulchains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe. (2 Nephi 1:13)
“Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.” (2 Nephi 1:23)
Words echoed later by Nephi, as he self-evaluated: “Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.” (2 Nephi 4:28)
In the latter days, the message still rings out “Yea, let the cry go forth among all people: Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom…” (D&C 133:10)
Just as it did in the days of Isaiah, “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments…” (Isaiah 52:1)
For me, there is a natural tendency that when the going gets tough, and things are stressful, I want to take a nap. Now is not that time. It is not the time to rest up – it is the time for us to wake up.
As Paul encouraged, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)
The Lord echoed it to Joseph Smith “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”
And in recent years, Elder Richard G. Scott gave us some great counsel:
“Avoid worldly wickedness. Know that God is in control. In time, Satan will completely fail and be punished for his perverse evil. God has a specific plan for your life. He will reveal parts of that plan to you as you look for it with faith and consistent obedience. His Son has made you free—not from the consequences of your acts, but free to make choices. God’s eternal purpose is for you to be successful in this mortal life. No matter how wicked the world becomes, you can earn that blessing. Seek and be attentive to the personal guidance given to you through the Holy Spirit. Continue to be worthy to receive it. Reach out to others who stumble and are perplexed, not certain of what path to follow.” (link)
To accomplish these things, and to continue fighting the good fight, we need to be three things:
Three things that The Great Anesthetist would love to help reverse in our lives. A sleeping saint poses no threat to him.