What I’m Learning About Life and Oxygen

Clouds and sunlight shining through

Most of us have been impacted by a loved one suffering through cancer. Cancer and other illnesses, too, have dramatic impacts on our relationships, on daily living, and on our very understanding of who we are. I’m no stranger to this. I know several people currently struggling with life threatening illnesses. Each of these individuals has inspired me with their courage to face each day, their hope for life, and in some cases their deep and abiding faith. Let me tell you briefly about Ron.

I’ve known Ron and Betty for a long time. We’ve been worshipping in the same church family more than 30 years. Ron is a lovable curmudgeon who calls ’em like he sees ’em and has been a faithful, reliable servant in the church for many, many years. Recently he was diagnosed with an aggressive stage IV cancer. Ron turns 78 in August and was more active in life and business than many people 15 and 20 years his junior. It’s not possible to express how hard this hit Ron and Betty.

But faith.

Faith prevails.

People often have the wrong idea about faith. They think it’s something they conjure up inside from their own will and decision. That’s wrong.

Faith comes from God. Specifically, it comes from hearing the Word of Christ. (See Romans 10:17.) Ron and Betty are in God’s Word and have been regularly as long as I’ve known them.

The Greek word for faith, transliterated as “pistis,” indicates a divine origin, not humanly, and suggests the idea of being so strong that it is guaranteed (by God). Clearly, that kind of faith is not of human origin.

Ron and Betty’s faith is created, supplied, and nourished by the Word of God. This God-guaranteed faith has sustained them.

When Ron and Betty began this new chapter in life they created a CaringBridge site. Betty has been chronicling the journey and sharing spiritual lessons that God is revealing to them. I’ve copied below most of a recent post that occurred after Ron began using an oxygen concentrator.

As I thought about writing this journal entry, I began to ponder and research the role of oxygen and its influence and role in the human body. The heart is the center of our circulatory system, which is a network of blood vessels that delivers blood to every part of your body. The role of the heart is to pump blood through out the circulatory system.

It takes adequate hydration of the body to transport oxygen. The oxygen is absorbed by the blood stream in the lungs, being then transported to the cells. Being that Ron’s lungs are the primary site of the cancer, with a mass near his heart, his breathing is in jeopardy.

Oxygen plays a vital role in the breathing process. Breathing may be considered the most important of all the functions of the human body, and all the other bodily functions depend on it. A human body can live without food for forty days, live without water for five days, but cannot live without air beyond five to six minutes. Brain cells are extremely sensitive to oxygen deprivation and can begin to die within five minutes after oxygen supply has been cut off. Decrease of oxygen supply to the brain can create conditions like tiredness, depression, irritability, poor judgment, and health problems. However, increasing the oxygen supply to the brain and nervous system will reverse these conditions, but not the cancer growth. That explains where we are today.

I once again turned to the Word of God and read what He has to say to us about the breath of life. In the book of Genesis we read that when God created Adam He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. In the book of Acts it says that God Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things, for in Him we live and move and have our being. In the book of Job, he stated, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life”. In Psalm 144 we read, “Man is like a mere breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”

We are in the hands of our Almighty God. When God deems it is time for Ron to come home, his heart and breath will stop and his spirit and soul will depart from his body and He will instantly be in heaven for eternity. I thank God for this truth. I thank God for every breath Ron is able to take today. I thank God for the oxygen that is pouring into his body as I write this. I thank God for the breath of life. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Psalm 150:6

Here’s what hit me about what Betty wrote:
Ron has cancer and I don’t, but all of what Betty wrote is true for me, too.

  • I need oxygen the same way Ron does.
  • God sustains and can take away my life, too.
  • When my life here is done, I will also be with my Creator, God Almighty, and Father forever.

I am thankful for Ron and Betty’s faith—that God called them to faith and for the spiritual mentoring they are sharing with me and many others.

Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.

Photo by Todd Quackenbush. Photo available at Unsplash under CC0 license. Image modified for size and space.

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