Blood: The Miracle of Life

Do we ever stop to think about the wonderment of God’s creation and the complexity of the life God has given us—and offer heartfelt thanks to our Creator?

We work and eat and sleep with scarcely a thought of the intricate processes that are happening every second in our bodies just to keep us alive! Our bodies are wonder-working “machines,” displaying a marvel of design far beyond our ability to comprehend, a continual testimony to the workmanship of our Creator. Medical doctors and scientists have labored for decades even to discover the secrets of life. They are learning constantly, and there is still more to learn.

One of the complex designs within us is the miracle of blood. This veritable river of life flows constantly in our blood vessels as long as we live, whether we are awake or asleep, without a conscious thought or direction from us. We didn’t design it, we cannot duplicate it, we can scarcely discover what makes it work. Yet every one of the more than 6 billion persons on the earth is blessed with a supply of this miraculous, life-sustaining substance.

The “life of the body is in the blood,” said the ancient inspired writer (Lev. 17:11 NCV). Modern Science confirms that this is true. God knew, long before we humans figured it out, that blood is the sustainer of the body’s life. Every second, every hour, this crimson stream courses through the vessels of our bodies, completing a route of some 60,000 miles every day, nourishing, cleansing, carrying food and oxygen to every cell in our body—can we not honor the Creator that designed all this?

Let’s look just a little closer at this miracle substance. Our bodies contain about 100 trillion cells, all doing their various God-designed jobs. (How much is a trillion? A trillion seconds would take us forward in time from the year 2003 to the year 3403!)

Of the 100 trillion cells in our bodies, about 25 trillion are the red blood cells that float in our blood. So many red blood cells crowd our blood stream that if these red cells could be laid tightly one against another, they would make a string that would reach all the way around the earth and six thousand miles besides!

Now let’s look closer at one of these red blood cells. Shaped like a cushion, the cell consists primarily of water and a red protein called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin gives the cell its red color and its remarkable oxygen-carrying ability. Each red blood cell does not contain one or two or even a dozen hemoglobin molecules but 265 million!

What makes a hemoglobin molecule able to carry oxygen? Each hemoglobin molecule, with its more than 10,000 atoms, consists of 4 elaborately entwined strands of protein (a substance that contains more than 570 amino acids). In the middle of each strand is a heme, a tiny disk of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen atoms, and in the middle of each heme is a single iron atom. This atom of iron makes the heme act as a magnet, grabbing up oxygen and carrying it to the tissues where it is needed, then releasing the oxygen—and just in proportion to the need!

Where do these remarkable red blood cells originate? Day and night, year after year, as long as we live, our bone marrow is constantly producing them. Each red blood cell lives only about four months (during which time it makes about 250,000 trips through the body), then it dies, and is replaced by a new red blood cell. This process goes on very rapidly. Every second about 8 million red blood cells die, and the same number are born every second.

Even more rapid is the production of hemoglobin to fill these cells. It has been calculated that in a single second the human body produces about 500 trillion hemoglobin molecules, the tiny vehicles that carry the breath of life to our cells!

We can only exclaim with the Psalmist, “Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom” (Ps. 145:3 NIV).