DEVOTIONAL: Heart Health
by Peggy Heppner, MA, RN, a recent graduate of Bethel University's graduate nursing program, works at Fairview Ridges Hospital, Burnsville, MN, in the emergency department.
“Give me your hand.” I looked desperately around hoping he was talking to someone else. As a student nurse I was trying to disappear into the corner, but the surgeon was talking to me. As I moved closer the surgeon took my hand. My mind tried to comprehend what he was doing as he slid my hand into the patient's open chest. He gently guided my hand until I held the patient's heart in my palm. My mouth hung open and my mind froze. One beat, then two. Feeling this heartbeat, I knew my life would never be the same. Reality set back in as he teased, “Don't squeeze!”
Years later I can still feel that beating heart in my hand. I've often thought about the power of that one muscle, that one heartbeat, and how the first beat of that patient's heart following cardiovascular surgery changed his life.
I have seen many hearts stop beating. Sometimes the cardiovascular team is able to resuscitate a heart and add months or years to someone's life. Jesus as the great healer has the ability to forever heal a heart in need of change. But the health of the physical heart isn't enough; we need spiritual heart health through personal reconciliation with God. Nursing has changed how I view Jesus' death and resurrection. My heart, which was dead because of my sin, was restarted by the power of Jesus' resurrection. Like a patient undergoing heart surgery, Jesus healed my heart with his restorative love.
by Peggy Heppner
Psalm 139 is Israel's ancient King David's prayer for God to perform a cardiovascular assessment on him. It is a reminder that God knows everything about us—we can't get away from the depth of his probing assessment. The famous King of Israel writes:
* God knows David perfectly, far beyond his understanding. I have seen cardiovascular surgeons struggle to explain the complexities of the heart God created. For optimal spiritual health, I must be attuned to God's assessment of my heart and listen as he instructs me in my complex condition.
* There is no hiding from God. A patient may not be truthful when asked about his sodium intake not realizing an honest assessment allows accurate treatment. Although God always knows how to treat our hearts, an honest confession of the true state of my heart forges the way to complete healing (Psalm 32:3-5).
* We are wise to realize our days are numbered. In the emergency department we may perform a cardiovascular assessment revealing the patient is expected to have a poor outcome. Psalm 139 gives perspective to the work in which we put our lives. We need not be afraid of the future as God allows us to be part of his plan and already knows the number of our days.
* After a cardiac event people are prescribed cardiac rehabilitation to change health habits. In Psalm 139 David describes a biblical plan for cardiac rehabilitation by asking God to assess his heart, diagnose his anxious thoughts and offensive ways, and lead him in implementing changes that lead to everlasting results.
U.S. Heart Stats
* About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year—that's one in every four deaths.
* Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
* Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 385,000 people annually.
* Every year about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack.
* Coronary heart disease costs $108.9 billion each year, including healthcare services, medications, and lost productivity (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013).