Is God Really The Tooth Fairy?

“Look at me. Look at my life. It’s been a train wreck.”

I am a social worker and, sometimes, that’s what I hear from people nearing death. It’s what a ninety-year-old, terminally ill patient with heart disease said to me when I first started in the field of hospice care a couple of years ago. We were engaged in a life review discussion in which patients reflect upon the highs and lows of their lives. He brought up the subject of God and how, as a teen, he was a strong believer.

“Lot of good it did me, though,” he said.

“What happened to your faith?” I asked.

“What do you think?” he quickly shot back, his stare, piercing. “You’re an adult. It just stopped working. The older you get, the less sense it makes.”

The sharpness in his tone told me to cut short the questions but I had one more. “Why do you think you had such a strong faith when you were young?”

“Because I didn’t know any better. It was make-believe, like the tooth fairy. At least, I used to get a few quarters out of that deal.”

I walk away from every life review discussion with new thoughts to ponder. Some confirm my own beliefs while others challenge them.

Many are inspiring, especially the people who have made God and faith the centerpieces of their lives. There was the gospel singer with throat cancer who told me she had never missed a single worship service until she became ill. To the day she died, she made it a point each Sunday to whisper the hymns from her bed.

Some are disturbing. A man who would later die of cirrhosis of the liver once confessed to me that he had been a burglar for two years as a young man. “Best days of my life,” he boasted. “Lucky was I to find the Lord later. But I’ll probably pay for those days – and soon.”

I keep drifting back, though, to the conversation with the patient who dubbed his life a train wreck. I think about his take on faith, about it making less sense the older he got.

Every so often, I’ve felt that way, too. I’ve been in the train wrecks; I’ve wondered about the logic of faith. But make-believe? God – a tooth fairy?

To believe in God is to collect the evidence. For me it’s the way the sunrise makes itself known like an urgent bulletin and how a child’s smile does the same thing. It’s the nurse with the reassuring touch gently holding a patient’s hand or the teacher’s aide with the white cane teaching kids Braille. It’s a concert hall of strings and reeds or a willow tree’s family of lady bugs.

What evidence have you found?


About Rich Kenney

Rich Kenney is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Social Work Program at Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Faith, Life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Is God Really The Tooth Fairy?

  1. I wonder at the blindness. Life is hard, but what hope is there left in a denial of God? A man in our church announced his faith and was baptized last week to a standing ovation. He was 86 and had denied the Lord adamantly for years. That kind of thing gives me hope that the blindness can be shattered in my unbelieving loved ones.

  2. Dawn Shepler says:

    I was once one of those whose God was a cosmic bellboy, “Bring me this, fetch me that, give me, give me, give me!” Only when I stopped demanding and started asking what the Beloved might want from me was I able to live in the sunlight of the Spirit. Some of us never get beyond the bellboy and it is so sad.
    Thanks for sharing your observations in such a charming way!

  3. Here is what unbelievers expect me to believe…that my garage, full of paints, brushes, canvas, and wood, suddenly exploded one day and when the smoke all cleared I found a perfectly painted and framed scenic painting of mountains and oceans that had been painted by the explosion. Rediculus!!! And they think my faith is hard to believe? What we are surrounded by is so much more complicated and detailed than a painting. When I see a painting hanging on a wall, do I doubt there was an artist? Sheesh! How can they not see how hard their faith is to believe? I am new to your site, so I’m catching up. I like it and I’m going to create a link, if I manage to figure out how. lol! Wish me luck!

  4. susiebell123 says:

    I’ve enjoyed catching up with your blog, Rich. You are a wonderful writer! And as far as “evidence” of our Lord? I just wrote, yesterday, about daffodils as a true sign of evidence of God! You are a wonderful story teller — and, by the way, I’m sorry for the loss of your Dad. Your story reminds me, and I’m sure many others, of a wonderful time — back in the 1940’s, when life was just rich with simplicity. I remember my dad painting the house too — ALWAYS a forest green color. Year after year, forest green — and I can still see the smile on his face as he admired his handy work. Oh man, are those great memories!!

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