The strand of rubber wrapped tightly around my arm, enlarging a vein perfectly suited for what was needed. The needle made its way into the vein with relative ease and began to extract blood, totaling four small vials. The nurse then completed the process by placing a bandage over the puncture where the extraction occurred. I was done. Now the blood would be tested to see if I was a match.
The process leading up to this moment has been a bit of an arduous one that has dominated my life and thoughts for the past few weeks. It is something of which only my family has known. My uncle has been battling a cancer that will promise to take his life without a stem-cell transplant. In searching through all the millions of people in a donor database, they were unable to find even one match. The next course of action was to turn to his extended family. Without a donor and the hope of a successful transplant, he will die.
Without getting into the details of a stem-cell transplant, as with anything, there are risks to the donor. But more than risk, there is the time, physical, and emotional investment. Perhaps that explains why there have been few takers when asked. It’s not as simple as a prick of the finger. Thankfully for him, while I was a 50% match, they were able to find a 100% match, for which his body is most likely to accept. The process of confirming that donor continues, with a date for the transplant looming in April.
It’s a fascinating medical miracle. The fact that you can take blood and stem cells from one person and inject them into an entirely different person who is sick. If the sick person’s body accepts the blood and those cells contained in it, their body will begin to build an entirely new blood and immune system, which will make them well again. They will essentially be a brand new person because of someone else’s blood. That person’s blood and code will be on the inside of them, surging a new life through their DNA and life. Their sickness will be made well and they will be brand new, totally transformed. Amazing!
I will not deny, laboring and praying over the thought of the process prior to giving blood, has been heavy for me. I have been a little detached in recent days. I am not terribly close to this uncle. I wouldn’t even hesitate if it were my mom or dad, my wife or kids. But an uncle I rarely ever see? But what if I were in his shoes, and he was one of a few potential people who were my only hope?
Of course, this brings me to thoughts of the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, recorded in Matthew 26. Jesus prayed this prayer just moments before He would go to shed His own blood for our sin, in our place, so that we might have life. He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I will, but what you will.” I didn’t, but I suppose I could have uttered that prayer. But that is where the similarities would end.
As much weight as I was feeling with my own process, one can only imagine the weight of Jesus in this moment. The Physician himself, Luke, records in the Bible that the weight was so unimaginable that Jesus prayed with such heaviness that his “sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” This condition is known as hematidrosis. It is a rare condition in which the capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing them to exude blood. It only happens under extreme or unexplainable physical and emotional stress. We know how the story ends. At the cross. Thank you Jesus.
What’s even more amazing is to consider Romans 5:8, which states Christ died for us, “while we were still sinners.” In other words, at our worst moment, while we were at our worst, on our worst day. I can tell you honestly that if the person on the other end of my own, very minor blood-letting venture was a terrorist or some type of person who had lived a horrible life, I would not have been sitting in that hospital room giving blood for them, nor would I have made the trip.
And yet, we have a Savior who died the bloodiest, most horrible death ever known to man, in our place, when we were at our worst moment, furthest from God. And this, all to bring us near to God and into relationship with Him…out of love. Even more amazing is that in Hebrews 12:2, the Bible says that Jesus did it “For the joy set before Him.” Joy!? Yes, joy. There are no appropriate words for this type of action and sacrifice. The only logical response is to receive it, accept it, and give your life to it, out of the same loving motivation that was given for you. There are absolutely ZERO reasons to ever feel like you are unloved, abandoned, unwanted, or that your life has no purpose…ZERO.
Jesus is real. His cross and resurrection are real. You will never convince me otherwise. His life-transforming blood is the only answer for our broken world. In many ways, we are sick with a sort of spiritual cancer. Without life-saving blood we will die a spiritual death. He offered His blood on our behalf. When we receive and trust Him as Savior, His blood surges through us. His life becomes our life. We get a new code. We get another chance, a brand new life. It doesn’t matter how sick we were. We become a new person. How amazing is this grace!
In response, we spend the rest of our lives in gratitude to Him by loving Him, serving Him, sacrificing as He sacrificed, giving up as He gave, gathering with other people who have the same spiritual blood surging through their veins, and worshiping with great passion the God who saved us all. In response, we tell as many people who will listen, there is a rescue for this dreadful cancer of sin, and we lead them to it. Hallelujah of Hallelujahs! May we never forget or get over this divine blood-letting.