The Great Anesthetist


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?”

Whoa. Score one for Mike. I tucked this idea into the back of my mind and stewed on it. For a year. I think it has incubated long enough.

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:

• Selfishness

• Addiction

• 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)

Wake up!

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:

1) Awake

2) Coherent

3) Sensitive

Three things that The Great Anesthetist would love to help reverse in our lives. A sleeping saint poses no threat to him.

Wake up.



  1. we are on the same wavelength here. I’ve been watching a lot of good people around me become more and more numb to all that surrounds them. And I have mourned for them. On the other hand, I’ve been working with my newly ordained 14 year old teacher and watching him pray for his future home teaching companion, those whom he will teach, and letting me know that as he sees people struggling with issues, he will work on whatever principle seems to be giving them problems and gain a testimony of it in order to not only help the member, but prepare himself more fully to serve a righteous mission. He has been encouraging his brothers in worthy goals and watching my husband and myself to pick out the traits he really wants to emulate. And those that he doesn’t. He prays to resist temptation and have his faith be greater than his fears and prays for his leaders. He leaves me feeling inadequate to raise such an amazing young man, and inspires me to be greater. Setting that example -refusing to be numb or muted encourages others to shake off the slumber from their eyes. But it seems to take a daily renewal of determination for me. But it’s soooooooooooo worth it!!!

  2. Love this. Thank you. I have three children that I would like to roll this up into a scroll, around a nice chunk of the iron rod, and beat them about the head and shoulders with it. But I shall desist, gird up my loins, look for ways to improve myself, and hope to entice them back to the truth by testimony and example.

  3. It is alarming to see the numbing in one’s own family. I get what Father Lehi was saying; I want to say it to my own wanderers, but instead I turn up the dose of unconditional love and flood them with all the charity I can muster. If I were to do any “preaching” at all, they would turn not only their deaf ears to me but their whole selves, which I cannot abide. Baby steps. Thanks, Bradley.

  4. Yikes! When did you get so smart?

    And I’ve only been a member since 1990; still haven’t learned all the acronyms. Is FOML5 a Former Old Monkey-Loving 5 year old?

    Much love and many laughs!

    • I hadn’t seen those acronyms, either (life-long member). But I think I figured them out: EC = Eternal Companion, FOML4 = Fruit Of My Loins 4 (or fourth child). Yikes. I think I’m right, though. Maybe?

      And it was a very thought-provoking article. Thank you for sharing and expounding on your friend’s insight.

  5. I avoid anaesthesia and painkillers if possible because of side effects such as loss of short term memory from certain much used general anaesthetics and the tendency to take a painkiller instead of figuring out how to heal or avoid the pain. How many of us have kept popping painkillers when we should have rested or been treated for the cause of pain? Many surgical procedures would be impossible without general anaesthesia. I am grateful for discoveries that have made such operations possible, but saddened by the illusion that life should be pain free. For some, guilt and sorrow for sin are seen as painful experiences that can be alleviated by the decision to ignore them. I keep returning to read this blog because of the wisdom (and bacon appreciation) I encounter.

  6. I echo Ginna’s post! Great article! Thank you so much for developing Mike’s idea and sharing it with all of us! The battle is raging and none of us can afford to sleep, let alone a nap! 🙂

  7. The Great Anesthetist had done his job in 1 Ne 17:45- “Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God. Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were PAST FEELING, that ye COULD NOT FEEL his words; wherefore, he has spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it were to divide asunder.”

    The “guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center,” (1 Ne 16:2) so I’m sure they want the anesthesia… I get the impression that society as a whole will soon need to be awakened by that voice of thunder. The crazy thing is, WE are considered to be the unfeeling ones when we insist on sticking to the principles of the Gospel instead of bending over backwards to make sure those who are not doing so feel okay about it.

    • Thanks for adding this, Zachary! I followed the link and read the talk, and then saved it. Learned a bunch. Thanks again.

  8. Wonderful post, MMM! I echo Lynn’s sentiments on the scroll-wrapped Iron Rod. Seeing a rainbow filter across my daughter’s profile pic (recent HS grad) was truly upsetting. I chock it up to the naivete of the young and inexperienced, but it is upsetting to see how much they have embraced these arguments and sedated themselves against accepting the truth. Still, I can love her and pray for her and continue to sit with her in Church. She has decided that whenever I bring up a politically charged topic I must be wrong, so that makes it difficult to have a gospel-centered discussion. Often it is easier to keep your mouth shut and wait until things settle a bit, then try. But don’t take a nap! Now if I could just get her to wake up.

  9. I can’t help myself here:
    Anesthesiologists ARE physicians, whose job it is to guide their patients through some of the most traumatic times in their lives. They monitor the patients’ vitals during surgery to ensure that they survive whatever operation they need to treat their disease. This job takes years to do well (9 years AFTER college). In a way, our Savior is also like an anesthesiologist– by relying on Him, we can make it through the difficult trials (surgeries) in our lives.

    Now, I understand the point of your article. I really did find it well-thought out and uplifting. I thank you for sharing it. I just bristled a little bit when I saw Satan compared to an anesthesiologist, since I am an anesthesiologist myself 🙂

    • :-D. There are well meaning physicians that are poor with their approach too. They treat the symptom not the cause. ;-). Two sides to everything. I had THE hardest time letting go of something from over 30 years ago because I thought I had to remember it all to let go. I literally let little piece by little piece go. I begged to be free of it and was sent a friend who was able to help me. Heavenly Father let me know that my memory was blocked on a lot of it for my protection. Maybe one day I’ll remember it all when I’m physically and spiritually strong enough, but for now I’m eternally grateful for the peace the atonement has brought me after finally learning to fully let go and let Christ take my pain.

  10. Anesthisia only numbs things it doesn’t fix them. If an anesthisiologist numb people up and sent them home without treatment the pain would just come back later and possibly worse. Sometimes the patient may even die without treatment. Satan provides anesthesia but no treatment. Christ on the other hand provides both. I would like to point out that even with anesthesia many treatments are painful and take effort and time to recover from. They may even be more painful than the original condition. (Repentance can be like that) The Lord provides the treatment and through His Grace and Mercy provides enough anesthsia to get us through it. In the long run treatment is always better. Satan’s anesthesia works too keep people from recognizing that they have a problem, makes them too comfortable to bother with treatment, or too afraid to turn to the Lord to get the help they really need.

  11. I finally had a chance to read this post and am so glad I did. Wow. Youth leaders could really use this in helping the rising generation realize the truth about the adversary. Not the “truth” he tries to get us to believe about sin and about ourselves, but the truth about who he really is and what he will do to someone if they walk into his “medical clinic” and have too many follow up visits.

  12. Your thoughts about the great physician vs. the anesthetist with thoughts I just shared ( Art can be one of the most powerful tools to help us wake up:

    “A book should be the ax that breaks the frozen sea within us,” Franz Kafka,

    Speaking of great art is an ice breaker that gets minds and conversation moving. As sharp-minded Argentine musician, Atahualpa Yupanqui, commented: “The nations are chilled by lack of spirit. But here we are with flint and tinder, with melodies, songs, poems, and reflections kindled through sleepless effort and dreams, living to warm the hours of those who haven’t thawed themselves yet” (in my adapted translation).

    Commenting on why considering challenging art is important, author Maria Teresa Andruetto added, “Good books [and I would add music, visual art, etc.] wake a dormant zone” that had been “anesthetized inside us.”

    It is human nature to gravitate towards people and topics that agree with us. Well, I guess it’s also common to seek out those on the opposing side of an argument so as to argue and spew vitriol. Either way, combating numb, too quickly convinced, or disagreeable, or complacent tendencies became Kafka’s rallying cry. He didn’t want easy books inoculated against controversy with pat answers and platitudes. Instead, he insisted, “We ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us.” What a potent way to put it! Even today, we likely still remember Kafka because he fulfilled his own counsel, grappling memorably with painful and therefore compelling themes.

    Along those lines, my friends, I wondered: What works (books, music, or other) have cut you beyond comfort, especially recently, helping to break up your frozen seas?

    For me, a favorite “planifesto” is to often question: What “flint and tinder,” “melodies, songs, poems, and reflections” might deice my capacity to waken from spiritual, intellectual, or emotional hibernation?

    Each of us can find ways to metaphorically tap into “flint and tinder” like Yupanqui describes. Some of us could possibly even hone a literary ax as sharp as Kafka’s. The accompanying image, Zenos Frudakis​’s, “Freedom,” captures, or more aptly described, liberates the divinely-endowed potential every human holds.

    As in the sculpture, how can we become the triumphantly emerged figure, instead of staying stuck, half formed in frozen stone seas?

    Shaping ourselves and others with worthwhile influences while breaking free to develop latent, unique abilities is within anyone’s reach. Ultimately, such transformation takes “sleepless effort.”

    Here’s to each of us making ourselves uncomfortable enough to seek out and share inspiration. Melt whatever holds you back and chop relentlessly at the frozen seas that limit you and others.

  13. Satan is also known as the Preparator (1Nephi 15:35).

    1. a person who prepares a specimen, as an animal, for scientific examination or exhibition.

    I suppose Satan could also be called The Great Taxidermist. First he anesthetizes you, then kills and mounts you as a trophy. So he can “…sift you as wheat.”

    I’m nobody’s trophy, and certainly not his.

  14. I really enjoyed this article. In my family we call becoming more aware of your personal situation to be “putting your antennae up.” In the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants the Lord says “Awake and arise” numerous times in more than one way. I always have taken that as a message to myself and have taught this to my family. Putting your antennae up is an important part of self-reliance or emergency preparation as well (situational awareness). Your article was fun. I am now a subscriber.

  15. Love this! I’ve been quoting 2 Nephi 28 as often as possible over the last several years so this really hit home with me. I think of Satan as the great mosquito. We have to be awake and prepared to repell his attacks. Consistently keeping our covenants is the only repellent that works. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  16. Thank you for sharing your wonderful insight! Certainly we all need this reminder now and again….and again! I sure do! This is an article I want to keep “on file” for use with my children and family.

  17. I loved this post! As a dental hygienist who administers local anesthetic I really thought your points were great. It got me thinking about what I do at work. In the mouth you can be pretty specific about what teeth get numb/ how numb they get. So many members right now are numb to certain issues/standards, but feel fine otherwise. Personally, I hate being numb on one side of my face. It makes trying to eat or talk kind of tricky! So it is with some people who are a little “numb” about marriage or modesty or Sabbath day observance or whatever the principle. When we start picking and choosing what we allow Satan to anesthetize we really get out of whack. It might not feel like it in the moment, but it does make things more difficult.

  18. So sad that disobedience to the Lord’s commandments allows Satan to deceive us, and we forget the light and truth we have previously learned. President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency described this dangerous condition: “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 [does] the testimony of the truth slowly erode, but even the memories of what it was like to be in the light [begin] to seem . . . like a delusion” (“A Life Founded in Light and Truth,” Brigham Young University 2000–2001 Speeches [2001], 81).

  19. I’m kind of sad that you didn’t somehow work in “I Want To Be Sedated” by The Ramones…

    Other than that, fantastic post!

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