by Ganns Deen
You know the drill: you wake up in the morning and the first thing you do is reach for the pack of cigarettes on the table beside you and light up a stick. You finish three sticks before breakfast. You have a couple on the way to work or school; you find yourself whiling away the hours with an occasional puff; you set aside a portion of your budget on cigarettes.
Tobacco is an integral part of your lifestyle: you have ashtrays in every room in the house, consume at least half a pack of cigarettes a day, and are fully aware of the dangers of your habit. People have tried to get you to quit. You tell them a) it gives me pleasure and hurts no one else; b) it only hurts me and no one else; c) the Bible doesn’t say anything about smoking; d) I need to smoke because it calms my nerves; or e) I know someone who’s been smoking all his life and he’s not sick. Of course, none of these are really true.
You know that statistics show lung cancer is now of the top five killers in the world – next only to heart disease, AIDS, and diabetes. You know the stories of people who’ve succumbed to lung cancer, including painful tales of people who died as a result of second-hand smoke. You’ve seen the ads; you’ve heard the stories; you want to quit… but not really.
No amount of statistics or gross pictures is going to make you stop. No amount of Bible verse will help you quit if you don’t see the value of the Word, and prayer is, believe it or not, simply not enough. The fact is this: it’s not enough to pray 24 hours a day and allow that stick to end up in between your lips. It’s like holding a lit cigarette in your fingers and saying, “God, please give me strength to not smoke this stick.”
We know what you’re thinking: with God, all things are possible, right? But now you’re saying, God can’t help me quit? But I thought God was all-powerful! He can help me quit! Of course God can do anything! However, He has given you free will, and He will never take that away. So, even if He wants to help, if you won’t let Him help, then He’ll respect that.
I had a brother who died of complications from lung cancer that spread to his brain. My brother was a world champion in darts, and is highly respected in that field. Only in his 40s, he was one example of how cancer can rob you of the people you love – and how they inflicted the damage on themselves. Meanwhile, my father suffered two strokes in the matter of six months, also an indirect result of his five-ream-a-week smoking habit. Theirs was a journey – like yours – that ended in tragedy. Are you willing to make the same mistake?
The first and most important step in your journey is the decision you make to say, “Okay, God, I want to quit smoking. Please help me.” Once you’ve done that, read on. This piece isn’t for people who’ve been trying to quit, but can’t. This article is for people who want to quit, and are willing to take active steps towards making it happen.
Why should you quit?
Paul says this in Romans 12:1: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.”
If we’re to place this in context, our very life is an offering to the Lord. The very offering He accepted as replacement for our sins – Christ Jesus – was the purest offering possible, and we owe it to God to keep ourselves as pure as possible.
Can we consider ourselves holy when we knowingly pollute our bodies with tobacco? To do so is to go against God’s word, a.k.a., to sin. Are we saying smoking is a sin? Well, d-uh. Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 6:12: “Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean it’s spiritually appropriate.” That’s the Message translation; the NIV translation reads, “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial.” Even if smoking weren’t a sin, we know that it has consequences, like we mentioned earlier.Furthermore, if smoking became an addiction, it would become the priority in our lives, and God is supposed to be that priority.
Here’s another thought: we know smoking isn’t good for our health; the little warning label on every cigarette box tells us so. Exodus 20:13 tells us we shall not kill, yet with every puff, we bring ourselves closer to death – it’s slow and steady suicide, plain and simple.
Furthermore, people have died as a result of second-hand smoke, and the Bible says we must love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 19:19). How can we possible love our neighbors when we smoke around them and help kill them in the process?
Where can I start?
First off, cleanse yourself of the guilt. Pray to God and confess your sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn 1:9)
You’re going to need more than desire. You need a certain amount of willpower. You’ve got to want this. It’s like a diet: you need motivation. Ultimately, the best motivation is the godly type. Face it: your body is valuable! “Didn’t you realize your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for?” (1 Cor 6:19-20, The Message).
Remember this, too: if you have Christ in your life, smoking destroys your testimony. If your body is a sacred place, you wouldn’t do anything to harm it. In this day and age, everyone knows smoking is deadly to your body.
Furthermore, an addiction to smoking (characterized as the inability to stop smoking, and the constant desire to smoke) speaks volumes about one’s sincerity in following the clean life as recommended by Christ.
Once you’ve decided you want to quit, give yourself a timetable. We suggest getting over your habit as fast as possible, not more than two weeks. Why drag out the suffering (pun not intended!)? Eliminate it all at once, and tell yourself: “a person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out.” (Prov 25:28, The Message). It won’t be easy, and we suggest repeating this phrase yourself when the temptation arises: “I choose not to smoke.” Yeah, it sounds creepy, but we’re pretty confident it’ll work, especially after you evaluate yourself. How? Like this: ask yourself bottom line, why do you smoke? Does it relax or stimulate? Does it relieve or empower? Does it provide a physical rush or is it a psychological treat?
Either way, you’re dealing with emotions in a negative way, harming your body with substances you know aren’t good for you. How you think will matter. So use your mind to overcome it. Desire + will power + God’s grace = success over addiction.
Here’s a quick prayer you can do to start. Remember: God accepts prayers prayed with a willing heart! Dearest Lord, I admit I have sinned against You by polluting my body and mind with cigarettes. Please forgive me. I commit my body and life to You, and by Your grace, I will overcome my smoking, and become a pure and holy sacrifice for You. Thank you for Your mercy; I trust that by Your love, I am forgiven. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Here are some valuable tips:
1. Don’t be late; always hydrate. Water is a powerful tool for the overcoming of cigarettes, because a) it’s wet, and will pretty much kill your cigarette; b) it helps wash away the smell of tobacco; and c) it’s good for your skin. Surround yourself with water, inside and out. It’s the perfect time to increase your number of showers and baths. If you’re the type of person who needs a cigarette to get you going in the morning, try this alternative: dip a face towel in cold water, wring it until no excess water drops out, and vigorously rub the towel on your arms until your skin turns slightly pink to red. Repeat on other arm. This gets your blood flowing, and the effort stimulates your senses.
As the days pass, you can add more body parts, like your chest, then your legs, and so on. The more liquids you drink, the faster you eliminate the toxic effects of the cigarettes, so drink a lot of water. Our body is approximately 70% water, so keep it watered to maintain good health. Soda, beer, and wine aren’t highly recommended; if you need flavor with your liquids, try fresh fruit juices and milk.
2. It may be best to get some rest. Cigarettes are often used as a way to relax or deal with stress, so get some rest! Fatigue drains our body of energy, so give your body the rest it needs to recover from those years of tobacco. Make plans to sleep earlier, and miss that TV show tonight (you’ve seen it anyway!).
3. Get on your feet after you eat. Most people tend to light up a cigarette after a delicious meal. What a shame: you can’t savor the flavor with all that nicotine! If you’re the type, get outside and walk. Take some time to breathe. If it’s breakfast, prepare for work or school; if it’s lunchtime, talk to a friend; if it’s dinner, step outside and look at the stars. Avoid the places you normally visit to smoke. The important thing is to breathe: some studies have shown that brain cells need more oxygen that other parts of the body, and after having eaten, the mind needs to be kept alert to assert the willpower to deny that cigarette.
4. Think before you drink. Alcohol, tea, coffee, and cola are out of the question while you’re quitting. The last thing you need is a stimulant that’ll rattle your nerves and get you to thinking about that cigarette. You need to stay calm, because once your nerves get rattled, you’re going to want to smoke. “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.” (Phil 4:6, The Message)
5. Review what you chew. While you’re trying to quit, we don’t recommend the high sugar, high spice, and intense flavor foods. Why? Tobacco tends to deaden the taste buds. Because the nose is so connected to the taste buds, that when your body starts flushing out those toxins, you’re going to rediscover the joy of real flavor, and you’ll be tempted to overeat (a real reason why many ex-smokers put on weight!). Instead of indulging in rich cakes or succulent steaks, take your pick of fresh fruit, vegetables, and nuts.
6. Don’t just stop if the weight goes up. You’re drinking lots of water and are eliminating the harmful effects of smoking. It’s only temporary. Remember to start with a good breakfast, and then bring on the lunch, and go light at dinnertime. And above all, resist the tobacco!
7. You won’t fall ill if you take a pill. Whoops! Be careful about what kind of pills! We’re talking about vitamins. Make sure B complex, which helps the nerves, is present in your daily supplement.
8. Night and day, don’t forget to pray. We all needs God’s help, and Matthew 21:22 guarantees us, “if you believe, you will receive what you ask for in prayer.” If you’re serious about quitting, it’s guaranteed. “[You] can do all things through Christ who strengthens [you].” (Phil 4:13)