This month our country celebrates those who donate blood during National Blood Donor Month. This got me thinking about my experiences with blood donation.
I donate blood when I can—but often the techs turn me away. After registering and going through the health history and mini-physical, the tech does a little needle prick and squeezes a drop of blood from my finger into a sterile solution. More ofthen than not they will shake their heads and inform me that my hemoglobin levels are too low (aka, I’m anemic).
But I try, because I know firsthand the importance of blood transfusions. In 2002, Pedro received a diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL), a blood cancer (one affecting the white blood cells). In order to treat his cancer, doctors administered chemotherapies that killed his blood cells—making his highly susceptible to secondary infections after each treatment. In fact, a secondary infection almost took his life.
Pedro received many units of blood during his year of cancer, chemo and recovery. Each one brought life-giving elements to his worn-out body at just the right time. He even received a unit or two of my blood (we don’t have the same blood type, but our blood types are compatible).
While Pedro knew the importance of receiving blood, the idea of a stranger’s blood coursing through his veins and arteries and pumping through his heart—well, it kind of grossed him out. To accept someone else’s blood is to allow a living part of them to become a part of you. On the other hand, he also knew that without the blood of strangers, he had no chance to live. When the doctors ordered a blood or platelet transfusion, Pedro always accepted it (but he never dwelt on the bag of blood hanging on his IV pole).
We all know that we need blood to survive, but you might not know exactly what blood does for us (I know I didn’t!). Blood has three primary jobs in our bodies—transportation, regulation and protection.
First of all it serves to carry life-giving substances such as nutrients and oxygen to all of our cells. It also transports waste and carbon monoxide to the proper body parts for elimination. Blood also carries stem cells—the basic building blocks of life—around our bodies. Stem cells have all the coding needed to regenerate the different types of blood cells and other tissues needed by our bodies.
As a regulator, blood works to keep our temperature constant so that our vital organs can work properly. In addition, it keeps our pH levels constant for optimal functioning.
Blood protects us in several ways. When something damages a blood vessel, the platelets go into action to knit the damage back together as quickly as possible. When bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites enter our body, the white blood cells multiply and quickly respond to the invasion.
I have a profound appreciation for anyone who takes the time to donate blood—and a profound respect for those who accept the donations. Donors give life, and recipients accept a gift that’s freely offered.
Thinking about the blood donation process and the role of blood in my body brings to mind another blood donation. Over two thousand years ago, God sent his son to live on this earth. While Jesus lived and breathed here on earth, he experienced every kind of suffering that I experience today. He lived a perfect life and willingly paid the price of death so that I could have hope. He offered his blood to pay for my sins.
I’d call him The Ultimate Blood Donor. And just like a cancer patient, I need to recognize the cancer of sin in my life and my need for a transfusion. A transfusion that transports, regulates, and protects.I need to recognize the cancer of sin in my life and my need for a transfusion. Click To Tweet
Jesus’ blood creates new life within me. It transports hope throughout me while carrying the sin and guilt to the grave (Jesus’ grave, not mine). I can know forgiveness as well as comfort because Jesus suffered in every way that we suffer.
In addition, accepting the blood of Jesus helps to regulate me. Every morning I show up for my daily transfusion (I spend time with him through Bible study and prayer). I have discovered that the closer I come to the heart of God, the easier it is for me to handle stress, disappointment and trials.
Those daily transfusions also protect me from the flaming arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16). God promises to enter into relationship with us—all we have to do is ask. Once we’ve accepted him, he can protect us from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3). That protection doesn’t mean that we won’t experience bad things—it simply means that God will never leave us nor forsake us as we live out our lives in a sinful world.
Of course, I can’t just walk into a hospital and ask for a pint of blood, but I can receive a transfusion of Jesus’ blood simply for the asking.
“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG
We have permission to approach the God of the universe and say, “Hook me up! I’m a dying sinner in need of mercy.” All because Jesus agreed to become the ultimate blood donor.We can walk into God's presence and say, 'Hook me up! I'm a sinner in need of mercy.' Click To Tweet