What Dr. Luke Has to Say About Asthma

Wang Zhao Qiang was 24 years old and was becoming short of breath when he played badminton.  Then he noticed that he also was coughing.  After several months the coughing and shortness of breath got so bad that he could not really play badminton well.  This was a problem as he was preparing to play in the Chinese National Badminton competition in three months.  He and his parents were very concerned.  What would they do?

They first went to their doctor where a chest X-ray was normal.  Then later after some other tests the doctor told them that Wang Zhao Qiang had asthma.  Wang Zhao Qiang and his parents had heard of this but they did not know much about this disease.  They asked the doctor a lot of questions and read some material that the doctor gave them.  Here are some of the things, which they learned about asthma.  They learned that men and women have this disease in equal amounts.  They also learned that both adults and children have this and that children can have it more than adults can have it.  In fact in China 5-10% of all people have asthma or possibly up to 130,000,000 people may have this.

The concerning thing is that the number of people with asthma is growing.  This is true not only in China but also in the rest of the world.  They learned that the primary reason for this growth of asthma is related to increased pollution from increased industrialization.  This was an especially large problem in China.

Wang Zhao Qiang had asked his doctor about the symptoms of the disease besides the cough and shortness of breath.  They learned that a person can have intermittent or chronic wheezing and tightness of the chest.

What are the causes or cause of asthma?  As mentioned pollution is a major cause.  However, other factors are exercise-induced asthma, which is what Wang Zhao Qiang had.    This starts 5-10 minutes after the person starts exercising.  Second are medications, which can cause asthma.  There are many medications, which can cause asthma, but the most common is asthma.  This occurs in less than 10% of patients but the asthma can be quite severe.   A third cause is what is called occupational asthma or from agents encountered in the workplace.  This is important because the asthma can start from weeks after working in the workplace to years after being exposed to the same agent.  These are the main types of asthma.

There are also families where many people in the family have asthma.  Thus we know that there is a genetic component to asthma.  The exact amount of this genetic component is not known but the number is not small.

Wang Zhao Qiang told the doctor that he noticed that his asthma was not only worse with running but running in the cold.  His doctor told him that there are certain triggers, which make asthma worse.  Some of these ‘triggers’ are as follows, cold air, hot air, dust, emotional stress, and infections.  Thus patients with these triggers should try to avoid them if possible so as not to trigger the start of an asthmatic attack.

At the end of the time with the doctor Wang Zhao Qiang asked if people could be cured from asthma.  The doctor said yes and no.  Many young children with asthma outgrow asthma so that by the time they are adults they do not have it anymore.  The same is generally not true for adults.  Once adults have asthma or have acquired it they generally have it for the rest of their lives.

The Bible speaks though of many miracles which Jesus Christ did.  The Bible says, ‘as he went along, i.e. that is Jesus Christ, he saw a man blind from birth.  He disciples asked him, ‘Teacher, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind.’  Jesus said, ‘neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might displayed in his life.  As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me.  Night is coming when no one can work.  While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’  Having said this, Jesus spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.  ‘Go,’ Jesus told him, ‘go wash in the pool.’  So the man went and washed, and came home seeing (John 9.1-7).’

An hour or two after this story Jesus again encountered this man and said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’  ‘Who is he, Sir?’ the man asked, ‘Tell me so that I can believe in him.’  Jesus said, ‘You have now seen him; in the fact, he is the one speaking with you.’  Then the man said, ‘Lord I believe,’ and he worshipped him (John 9.35-38).’

What does this story mean?  It shows that Jesus has power over sickness to heal in a miraculous manner.  It also shows that this opportunity to heal will not always be present.  It finally shows that Jesus is to be worshipped after he does great miracles.

Later in this same book in the Bible entitled John, which was written about 90AD Jesus says that Jesus rose from the dead, which is as great a miracle as could occur.  Jesus said to a man named Thomas, one of his disciples, after he rose from the dead, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it onto my side.  Stop doubting and believe.  Thomas said to him, My Lord and My God!’ Then Jesus said to him, Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.  But Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20.26-31).’  What a powerful few sentences.

Jesus had just risen from the dead and many had questions and even doubts if he really had risen from the dead.  Before Jesus died he was crucified for the sins of the whole word.  The crucifixion allowed Jesus to have nail marks in his hand.  After his disciple saw these nail marks he worshipped Jesus as his Lord and God.  Then Jesus speaks of those people like us who have not seen Jesus but will still believe.  Then he says, all of the miracles in the Bible are written so that we may believe that Jesus is the Son of God and by believing we may have life in his name.

Before we talk more about his let us go back to asthma and ask a few more questions and see what kind of treatment there is for asthma.  Jesus came to give treatment for sin.  What kind of treatment is there for asthma?

Wang Zhao Qiang had learned that it was important to never smoke and not be around those who were smokers.  His father smoked and because of his son he stopped smoking. Smoking can only make asthma worse whether the smoke is from your cigarettes or second hand smoke.  Second, they learned that there are medicines, which can be used to treat asthma.  The medicines are very good and safe.  In fact the medications which are the best are from little very small devices which can be held in your hand.  These medicines can be used just as you need them and do not need to be taken every day.  Thus for example Wang Zhao Qiang could take his medications just before he exercises and not at any other time.

Some people with asthma are not so fortunate.  They develop very severe asthma over time, which requires medication everyday.  These people’s asthma can become so severe that the medications must be taken every day.

One thing, which can be done, is prevention.  For example if a patient is allergic to dust which is a trigger for their asthma, the person’s house should be kept very clean to eliminate dust from the house.  Also air filters can be used to prevent dust from collecting and not having animals in the house and not having smoking.  Other things are to get the flu and pneumococcal vaccines both of which are available in China.

Finally, it is important for patients with asthma to maintain good exercise on a daily basis.  Why is this so important?  This allows us to keep up our lung capacity.  To keep it at a higher level that it would otherwise be.  Also, it keeps our weight down and a higher weight is worse for people with asthma.  People like Wang Zhao Qiang who have exercised induced asthma could take the medication just before they exercise and then exercise without problems.  Even people without exercised induced asthma could take medications just before they exercise and then have no problems afterwards while they exercise.

What happens if someone has really severe asthma?  First, there are people who have this and do quite well with treatment.  There are now in the world 30 different types of medicines for asthma.  So now asthma can be treated very well.  There are people who develop acute asthma flares and die suddenly from this overwhelming asthma.  Thus when a person develops an asthma flair they should quickly take their medicines to decrease the flair.  Also if patients develop very severe asthma they can use oxygen to help them breathe.

We have talked about medicines helping patients with asthma breathe better but how do we know how Jesus Christ saves us from our sins?  This is important because we should know that ‘the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6.23).’  The book of Romans was written to the city of Rome in around 63AD and is contained in the Bible.  This sentence says that the payment of wage for our sin is death.  Which is not a good payment is it?  However, the gift, i.e. no payment needed, is eternal life through Jesus Christ.  This is an incredible promise.  How do we obtain this gift?

The Bible gives the answer like this in a book written to a city called Ephesus, which is in what is modern day Turkey.  This book is also in the Bible and was written around 65AD by a man named Paul.  He writes the following, ‘But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is a gift from God- and not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2.4-9).’

What a powerful statement.  Even when we were literally dead in our wrongdoings, i.e. the things we do wrong, God in his great love for us made us alive in Christ.  He did this because of his great mercy as well.  Note though that this salvation from God is free, it is a gift.  We can do nothing to earn it.  We cannot pay for it, like medicines, we cannot work for it, and nothing can earn it.  We must accept it by faith.  What is it that we accept by faith?

We accept that Christ died for our sins and that he rose from the dead.  The Bible again says in the book quoted above, i.e. John, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3.16).’  Believing in Jesus will give us everlasting life.

We believe that he died for us and then he rose again.  Again in the book of Romans it says the following, ‘if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved.  For it is with your 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 believe that Jesus is the Lord of the world, that he died for our sins by dying on the Cross and that he rose from the death to show his power over death then we will be saved from sins to live eternally with him in heaven.

You may ask how can we be saved?  You can pray the following prayer.  ‘Dear Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and have sinned.  I confess my sins to you.  I believe that you died for me on the Cross-to save me from my sins.  I believe that you rose from the dead three days later to show your power over sin and death.’  If you have prayed this prayer and believe it then you are now a child of the eternal king.