“You’re actually in a life-threatening situation right now.”

That was what my dentist told me in all seriousness.

7 months ago during a regular check-up, my dentist suspected that my lower wisdom teeth were not growing normally. He instructed me to return in two months for an in-depth scan where he would then decide if I had to extract them.

In my heart, I knew we didn’t have to wait two months to know. My wisdom teeth had been hurting on and off for years.

But as I dreaded the coming appointment, I ended up cancelling my next visit out of fear.


A day came when I woke up with a terrible sore throat and fever. Even worse – the lymph nodes on my neck had become swollen.

I reasoned that I must have been under the weather or that my body was “heaty”. That illusion quickly shattered when my jaw started swelling and my gums began to bleed.

Desperate and in severe pain, I called my dentist.

The X-ray showed that both my wisdom teeth were more than three-quarters impacted in my jawbone, where there was definitely no more room for further growth.

In fact, my wisdom teeth were so badly infected that this had caused my lymph nodes to swell. “If we don’t extract this soon, the infection may one day travel to your heart. You might die,” my dentist said calmly.

I thought constantly escaping from the dentist meant that I’d never have to face my biggest fear. Running away from a fix, I chose to live with the persistent but bearable pain.

That was a mindset of denial which had now put my life in danger.


I realise now that this is how I’ve dealt with most of the issues in my life.

I see the situation at hand and assess it. Then from my own understanding, I predict the worst possible outcome and – more often than not – invariably decide that the best course of action is to run away.

Running away always seems to be the most painless and easy way out of any situation: Broken relationships, family issues, tricky financial situations …

And fear is what makes us run.

When Moses sent spies into Canaan – God’s Promised Land – to gather information, the spies’ fear of the giants overshadowed the blessings Canaan had to offer. Although they brought back the bountiful fruit as they were told to do, their end-of-trip report focussed on all the seemingly impossible obstacles looming over them (Numbers 13:26-33).

So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size … We became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers 13:26-33)

In their fear, they forgot God’s promises to them (Numbers 14:2). They could only see how they were very probably going to die very painful deaths.

My eyes were fixed on my predicament instead of the promise.

I couldn’t see how my pain would be relieved after the surgery – for good. I could only see how painful the surgery itself would be.

My eyes were fixed on my predicament instead of the promise.

But my running away didn’t solve anything. It didn’t heal the pain I was feeling or make the wisdom tooth issue magically disappear.

Instead my wound worsened as I singlehandedly made the issue more severe than it ever needed to be.


When I finally went for my surgery, the actual procedure proved to be a breeze. However the recovery process wasn’t as smooth sailing as I expected.

By the third day my entire jaw was very swollen, as if I had a golf ball stuck in my mouth. It was badly bruised, having turned a shade of blue-black and dull yellow. Four days later I went back for a review and learnt that my stitches had torn, hampering my recovery.

How long more?

In my healing journey, I learnt problems don’t get solved overnight. Relationships aren’t restored overnight. Debts aren’t cleared overnight.

Rather, transformation happens step by step. The impossible only seems impossible because you haven’t taken that first step of faith out of the boat yet.

Sometimes we fall into a relapse; stitches tear and wounds reopen. And that’s alright – we press on. What truly matters is we keep going, fixing our eyes on what’s ahead (Philippians 3:14).

Now that’s wisdom.