"If you let me finish wiggling this tooth out, I will give you a treat!" Trying to negotiate with a very hesitant 6 year old patient was tough, but I had to try something...anything! After some internal anxiety while I waited on her to respond, to my surprise the promise of "something" really worked. As soon as my patient's tears dried up, the tooth was out in no-time and a smile quickly came across her face. She looked to the translator, spoke quickly and excitedly in Arabic, and he began laughing. My patient was ready for her reward.

In the States, dentists give away everything from balloon animals, to bouncy balls, to slap bracelets but unfortunately we didn't have any of those things with us in Athens. I took a deep breath as I reached for the tooth brushes behind me. Time to hype up oral hygiene like I had never done before! My eyes lit up, I raised my voice a few octaves, and I presented the different colored tooth brushes to my patient (the only possible prize I had). I was worried she would see right through my over-the-top excitement and not respond well to this (admittedly mundane) reward, but to my surprise she was thrilled. Her body language and excitement immediately matched mine, she looked over the different color options I had in front of her, and she snatched her pink brush and ran off to tell her other friends! I breathed a sigh of relief.

In the moment, I was just grateful that this 6 year old wasn't mad at me for surprising her with a tooth brush, but after spending some time in reflection, I realized that there was so much more to this. It brought me back to one of my favorite verses in Hebrews. "And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." (Hebrews 12: 1-2) When we fix our eyes on the ultimate Reward, it makes the difficult times more bearable. We were never promised easy, but we were promised Life, and if we could just focus on that more intentionally - how much greater would our ministry become?

If a child can endure difficulty for an unknown promise, how much more can we overcome for eternal Life? If a child can delight in a pink toothbrush, how much more will we in the sweet Prize of Jesus?