Especially at this time of Thanksgiving, it is good to follow the advice of a three thousand year old Psalm which reminds us to, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.”
My job mostly involves trying to help repair the deficits, damages, and diseases that happen to the human body over a lifetime – best case, I can help to prevent or delay some of those. But in the midst of all that, I am often amazed and thankful for the resilience and reparability of the physical equipment we are given. It’s one of the huge benefits given us by our Creator.
Let’s face it; most of us don’t exactly treat our bodies with pristine care. On average we Americans throw down a five pound bag of sugar every couple of weeks, spend too much time on the couch, take in way too many calories and too few nutrients, and some of us top this off by daily sucking in smoke containing a few dozen carcinogens. Happily there are some wonderful exceptions to those statements. But then there are the unavoidable exposures to bacteria, viruses, parasites, falls, collisions, toxins, heat, cold, stress, sleep-deprivation, and bad hair days.
In spite of this, over a lifetime we ask our legs to take about 100 million steps, our heart to beat some two and a half billion times pumping over 40 million gallons of blood, our body to replace 300 billion cells every day (each of which is like an unbelievably sophisticated information-packed miniature city), and countless other tasks.
As any good car salesman would say, we come “fully loaded” with 60,000 miles of blood vessels, lungs with a surface area equal to a tennis court, a stomach lining that withstands an acidic environment that can dissolve razor blades and gets replaced every 3 to 4 days, a liver that looks very mundane but carries out 500 different functions and counting, a nose that can remember 50,000 different scents (often tying them in to some emotion or memory), bone which is pound for pound stronger than steel, and even a dab of earwax that protects the delicate inner ear from bacteria, fungus and dirt (if not removed by an overzealous Q tip user). And the list goes on and on. The closer we look and the more we know the more amazing it is.
Here’s a small example: Some years back I fractured my finger playing flag football. It turned out I had a bone cyst that had weakened my finger tip so the fracture wouldn’t heal unless the cyst was gotten rid of. The orthopedist scheduled me for a surgery in which he opened up an area on my wrist, took some bone scrapings and put them into the cyst in my finger tip. That was kind of cool. But what was far more amazing is that those displaced little pieces of bone which had grown up on a wrist knew how to form into a perfect new fingertip. Uh yes I am definitely one of those crazy people who believes in a Creator.
I’ll sandwich these thankful musings with another 3000 year old Psalm: “O LORD, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all…”
There are more things that I am thankful for than I could list in this short space. One of them is certainly the amazing body we have been given for these few short years on earth. Even more I am looking forward to the one that has a warranty that never expires, and that has eyes that will see the One who ultimately is my Healer.