The lungs are a very important part of our bodies. With them we breathe. Without them we would die. Like so many parts of our body we may not appreciate our lungs until we cannot breathe well. No one likes to be short of breath, do they? If you have ever been it is very uncomfortable. The lungs moreover are not only very important to our lives to live, if we do not breathe well we do not feel well and we also cannot do very much. In other words their lives are very restricted. Why is this the case? How do the lungs work?
The lungs are mostly just filled with air. The actual part of the lungs is not like the leg for example where the whole leg is full of muscles, tissue and bones. The lung is mostly just filled with air. There are big pipes, which take air from the outside to the inside of the lungs. These pipes have names but we will not mention them here. The pipes go from the size a little larger than your finger to a size so small you need a microscope to see them. It is at the very end of these pipes where are very small spaces we cannot see with our eyes where all the work is done. At this place the body does a remarkable but simple process. The body exchanges oxygen for a waste product from the body called carbon dioxide. The oxygen comes from the air we breath. Inside the lungs in these very tiny spaces, the body exchanges these two gases for each other. Though simple this process has so many effects on our lives. What are these effects?
The oxygen is needed for our bodies to function. The lungs take the oxygen from the air and put it into the blood stream. The blood streams in our bodies take the oxygen to the rest of our body. The oxygen goes to our heart, brain, liver, kidney, and legs and in fact to every part of the body. The rest of the body needs the oxygen to function. Without it our body would die. Here are some examples to think about how important oxygen, which our lungs give us, is so important.
Consider if I or someone else were to put around your leg a belt and pulled it very tight and left if for several minutes to hours. What would happen to your leg? It would turn red, then blue and then after several hours it would start to die. If I left this belt on a day that leg might be totally dead. Why? The body needs oxygen to work. Without it dies. Also, the body all over produces the waste product carbon dioxide. It is an acid and like any other acid if it touches something it destroys things. Thus if this substance builds up in that leg then it will quite quickly start destroying the muscles and other parts of the leg. Thus besides not having oxygen, the body in this case would have too much carbon dioxide.
Having these two gases in the body in the exact right amount is so important to your living and living and feeling healthy. It is the lungs, which are so important to keeping these gases in balance for the whole of our body.
A second example is that of having a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when the heart does not get enough oxygen. How does this occur? The heart is like any other organ in the body. It too needs oxygen. The heart gets its blood supply from blood vessels on the inside and outside of the heart. When these blood vessels become blocked then no blood can go to parts of the heart. If no blood can get to the heart then no oxygen can get to the heart, because it is the blood, which takes oxygen to the heart. After the heart does not have blood for several hours it starts to die. The same things occur here. Too little oxygen and too much carbon dioxide. Both causes damage. This type of blockage in the arteries of the heart is generally in older people, though in can occur in younger people. Again, it is the lungs, which so carefully regulate the balance of the oxygen in the body so each part gets the exact amount it needs.
A third example of not getting enough oxygen is that of a stroke. The same thing occurs here as in the heart except that it is a blood vessel to or in the brain, which is blocked. If the blood vessel is blocked to the brain for several hours, then no oxygen gets to the brain and the part of the brain, which gets no oxygen, will start to die. If that part of the brain was needed for walking or talking then that person will not be able to walk or talk or maybe not as well as before the stroke. Again, it is the lungs, which regulate so carefully how much oxygen our bodies need.
Thus the lungs are very important. They regulate how much oxygen our bodies take from the air and they let off the carbon dioxide so our bodies do not have too much acid buildup. Truly the lungs in our bodies are an amazing organ.
The Bible speaks in the Book of Psalms written by King David of Israel about 3000 years ago of the body being ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’ The book of Psalms is a book of poetry written by King David during different parts of his life. This book also says the following, ‘Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath…But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you (Psalms 39.4,5,7).’
What does all of this mean? Though our lungs are amazing, our life in the span of eternity is but a breath. Like just one of the breath’s we take each day. This thought can either give meaning to life or drive us to despair. Why can it do either? It can drive us to despair because we think we our lives are so short as to be meaningless. It can drive us to hope because it can help us to evaluate life in the true scope of life. That is just how long it really is or how short it really is. It is very short. Because life is so short it makes us really evaluate it in terms of what God wants for us. What is it that God wants from us? To place our trust in him. David said, ‘my hope is in you.’ Not in money, fame, fortune, houses or even power. Our hope is in God.
There is another Psalm written by David, who states, ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, thought its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…The Lord Almighty is with us (Psalms 46.1-3,7).’ God provides us with great hope through his creating strength and through the greatness of his character. Thus even though our lives are so very short it really makes no difference. During the short time we live and even after we die God gives us a great hope.
Hope is important. Going back to talking about our lungs it is important to realize that everyday we have oxygen to breathe. It would be terrible if one day we woke up and were unable to breathe, that is there was no oxygen available to breath. We all certainly hope that our lungs work and that there is oxygen to breathe. From the time we are born to the time we die there are many different types of diseases, which can cause damage to our lungs and affect how much oxygen we can get.
Children can be born with lung diseases, which affect them so bad they only live a few months. They are born with these diseases. Some children can acquire bad asthma as a young child. Though severe as a child, childhood asthma is a disease which many children often outgrown, that is as an adult they may not have it. Anyone after being a young child can develop asthma. Many have until they are young adults and then do not have it anymore and many never outgrow this disease. That is they have it for the rest of their life.
If children are not born with a disease then they usually do not have lung diseases except for asthma. However, adults are different. Most adults develop lung disease secondary to having smoked for years. This is actually the most common cause of adult lung disease, which is smoking. Smoking causes emphysema and other lung diseases. This causes a progressive destruction of the lungs, which are very difficult to reverse unless someone stops smoking.
The lungs also after 30 years of age have a natural slow decline in function which all people have all over the world, regardless of sex, country or ethnic group. This is why most people after 30 years of age in all functions of the body but especially in lung function slowly loose the ability to do more physical exercise and activities.
Once people loose lung function can they regain it. Yes and no. Certainly lung which is destroyed by smoking after a certain period of time cannot be restored. However, it can be renewed later if it not too much damage it done. Some people who have had bad infections with, for example, tuberculosis or other infections have their lung function so badly damaged it will never grow back and they will have to adjust. Zhang Luo Wei was a 30-year-old factory worker from Shang Hai. He had acquired tuberculosis 5 years ago. He had been treated with drugs for six months and had gotten over the tuberculosis. However, the tuberculosis had damaged part of his lung so bad that part of the lung never recovered. He was short of breath when he had acquired the tuberculosis. However, after he was treated part of the lung was still damaged. Then later, because the lung had not improved he continued to have mild shortness of breath so much that he could not work in his job well and had to stop.
How can lung function be improved? The most important thing is to stop smoking if you are smoking. Second, is to exercise. Daily exercise of 20-30 minutes will help lung function to get better. Also, try as much as possible to avoid other people who smoke. This is hard to do in China as so many people smoke in public places. However, second hand smoke from other people causes a lot of problems in lungs to those people who do not smoke.
A question can also be asked about how we can improve our relation with God. Many people think this is not important. However, is it important or not? That is a very big question. The Bible says in a book written to the city of Rome about 63AD by a man named Paul the following. ‘The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what had been made, so that men are without excuse (Romans 1.18-20).’ This is a long but important passage. It basically says that people have suppressed God’s truth by their wickedness. As a result of this God’s wrath is being poured out against them. Why? Because all people knew this but still this. They clearly knew this and still did it and thus are without excuse.
The question then becomes; did all people do this? The Bible again in the book to the city of Rome, that ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3.23).’ How then can we get beyond this? How can we avoid God’s wrath? A book called written to a city called Ephesus, also in the Bible, says, ‘it is by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourself, it is a gift from God so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2.8,9).’ What is this gift? The gift is Jesus Christ coming to earth to save mankind from their sins. Jesus Christ took on himself the sins of mankind so that all people would not have to bear their sins before God. You may ask, how can I come to know Jesus Christ personally so that I will not have to bear my sins? I am glad you asked.
The Bible says that ‘if we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our hearts that God raised him (that is Jesus Christ) from the dead we will be saved. For it is with the heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved (Romans 10.9,10).’ If we are willing to confess out loud the Lord Jesus and believe in our hearts that after Jesus Christ died for our sins he was raised from the dead we will be saved. We will be saved from our sins to live and full life now and for eternity with God. What a great promise. I encourage you to say this prayer with me know, ‘Dear Lord Jesus. I know that I have sinned and have done wrong and I believe that you have died for my sins and then rose from the dead to show your victory over sin. I accept you into my heart so that I might have eternal life.’ If you have prayed this prayer, congratulations you are now a child of the eternal King, Jesus Christ.