That was when I first began to understand and appreciate the full significance of heart disease. This was all further underscored fifteen years later, when my father had his first heart attack (at age 51), followed by seven by-passes. Sadly, my father had a second, fatal heart attack in 2000, at age 61.
On the other side of my family, my Grandmother Burdette had a massive heart attack in her seventies, and was forced to live the last twenty years of her life with major heart damage. Now, at age 72, my mother has had a heart attack. She is better now. She has had multiple stents inserted into her coronary arteries; and though she does have some heart damage, she is expected to be able to resume a reasonably normal life.
Like all heart disease patients, she will have to make some changes in her lifestyle as she goes forward into the future. However, this is a minor thing in light of the new lease on life that she has now been given.
I praise God for the enormous advancements in both diagnosis and treatment of heart disease that have come about over the last few decades. I am thankful everyday for cholesterol and blood pressure lowering medications, and well as for blood thinning medications. I am also thankful for the development of such techniques as heart catheterizations, angioplasty, coronary stents, and open-heart bypass procedures.
We are so blessed to have all these things available to us. To begin with, we are blessed to live in this country, where such things are accessible. Many alive in the world today do not have access to such life-saving things. We are also blessed to live currently. Many, like my Grandfather Jackson, lived and died right here in America when these procedures were not yet available.
I have thanked God many times for all of this in light of what my mother has now gone through. I am also aware that, with such a family history, these things may all one day have a bearing in my own life. And I am again thankful to God that they will be there if and when I need them.
Of course, I am reminded in all of this that all we can ever hope to do as men and women is treat a physical problem. If there is any healing in sickness, it is ultimately because God, the Creator, brings that about. Moreover, all physical life is limited. No matter how good we get at treating heart disease, we know that ultimately we are only forestalling the inevitable.
“It is appointed unto man once to die,” the Bible says in the book of Hebrews. And in the venerable words of the King James, the 90th Psalm says, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” Ultimately, our present bodies are not meant to last forever.
But, praise the Lord, He is able to make all things new. There will come a day when He will provide my grandparents, my parents, myself, and indeed all who have ever believed with a brand new body. One that will finally be perfect. One that will last for all eternity, where, there in His Holy Mountain, “neither moth nor rust doth corrupt”; and where there will be “no more sickness, and no more sorrow”; and where God Himself “will wipe away all tears from our eyes”!
Of course, to see that glorious day, we need to look beyond our current physical shortcomings to our spiritual defects. The real problem that plagues us has less to do with our physical hearts and more to do with our spiritual ones. The real human predicament is that we live with a broken spiritual heart. This is because of Genesis chapter 3, and the introduction of sin.
Just as cholesterol sets up within us and destroys our physical hearts, so sin takes root and destroys our spiritual life. But, when Jesus gave His life on Calvary, He imputed His righteousness to us. In effect, we received a new heart: one donated by the Son of God. And because of this, we can have a new life, and we can have it to the full.
I trust you have realized this great truth. If not, I trust you will. For God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and new life in Jesus Christ. I also trust that the knowledge of such will alter the way you now choose to live.
Knowing that we have been spared, that our life has been restored should motivate all of us to change the way we approach that life. Henceforth, may we, as believers, live in a manner worthy of our redemption: one designed to bring glory to our Redeemer. As Paul says, “I no longer live; but Jesus Christ now lives in me.” Amen. Even so, may it be.