I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. Psalm 9:1
An anonymous observer wrote that it "doesn't complain about the condition of the weather, seeks no 'social security' and never asks for a vacation. It will work best when treated well, but will do its utmost to give good service when working conditions are unduly taxing its strength." No, it isn't your dog--man's best friend--who sits by the gate and awaits your arrival with wagging tail. It is your heart, located six inches below your collarbone slightly off-center on the left side of your body.
First, a few words about this amazing part of your body we call the heart and how marvelous it is, something unduplicated by science and technology. Your heart is a muscle about the size of your fist. When you were born, your heart weighed less than one ounce, and if you are an adult male your heart weighs about 11 ounces; 9 ounces if you are a female. That means your life is dependent upon a muscle that weighs less than a pound, or 400 grams.
It's the most critical part of your body, too, one which works day and night, never takes vacations, seldom gets rest, and never goes to sleep. There are four chambers in your heart with valves between them, and these cooperate in pumping blood through a vast network of veins, arteries, and capillaries, bringing oxygen and nourishment to your body.
To a far greater degree than we acknowledge or even ponder, we are dependent on this muscle's silent performance, because if it quits, you do, as well – and very quickly, too. You can get along quite well with just one eye, or still function with the loss of hearing in one ear. Though it's sad, you can survive with the loss of an arm or leg. But when your heart becomes diseased, unless surgery can correct the situation, you are in grave trouble.
Based on a heartbeat of 70 times a minute, your heart beats 4200 times an hour, 100,800 times every 24 hours, and over 36 million times a year. By the time you reach 70 years of age, your heart has beaten over 2.5 trillion times.
Connected to your heart is a vast network of veins and arteries--a kind of built-in transportation system for your blood--which, if connected end to end, would stretch between 60,000 and 100,000 miles, or reach up to four times around the world at the equator. The volume of blood pumped by your heart in a year is about 650,000 gallons or 2,460,250 liters. That's enough to fill more than 81 standard railroad tank cars. Your beating heart generates enough energy in a twelve-hour period to lift one of those tank cars weighing 65 tons, a foot off the ground.
Some 3000 years ago the Psalmist said, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well" (Psalms 139:14). And that was long before the days of Dr. Christiaan Barnard of South Africa, who performed the first heart transplant, or before Dr. Tom Fogarty invented the little plastic balloon which smoothes out clogged arteries or doctors knew how to insert little stainless steel stents which pop against weakened arteries and keep them open, thus ensuring the flow of blood to your heart.
Your heart is an awesome marvel which is the key to keeping you alive and healthy. When you take care of it, it takes good care of you, but when you abuse it and fail to nourish it, like anything mechanical it will wear out. More on this important theme on our next edition of Guidelines.
Resource reading: Psalm 73:23-28