My mother died of emphysema. My uncle died of emphysema. My grandfather died of emphysema. Emphysema is a terrible way to go.
My three relatives all undoubtedly would have lived longer had they not been lifetime smokers. You can understand why I deplore the use of tobacco products and feel passionate about this subject.
I thank God I never became addicted to smoking. But I have suffered from seeing my loved ones and many friends suffer from severe health problems, depression and many other smoking-related stresses.
When I was a child, my parents and many adults around me smoked, but their example influenced me not to smoke. Their mental suffering—shame, guilt and regrets—as well as their physical suffering seemed to far outweigh what little pleasure they were getting from their smoking. They lamented that they were helpless slaves to their habit and passionately warned me against trying cigarettes. So I developed a healthy fear of any addiction.
I started my teen years by saying, "I don't drink, smoke or chew or go with the girls that do." But in my later teen years, in spite of the warnings I had received, I occasionally smoked on social occasions. Why? Only for the usual immature reasons—experimentation, youthful recklessness, peer pressure and wanting to be cool.
Though my smoking was infrequent, I eventually might have become addicted had I not received the greatest possible blessing. God opened my eyes to understand, love and want to live by His Word, the Bible. When God's will became important to me, and I realized it was His will that I not smoke, I never smoked again. I wish I could make it that easy for everyone else.
The Good News magazine is published by the United Church of God, which has ordained ministers in cities all over the world. Trained and experienced in pastoral counseling, the Church's ministry is deeply sympathetic to those struggling with addictions. Indeed, during my own 36 years as a minister I've given counsel and moral support to hundreds of people struggling to overcome smoking habits. Others in this ministry can say the same. All of us stand ready to help and support those who want to overcome an addiction. GN