Breathing, what could be more natural? Breathing is a part of life. In fact, breathing is a sign that one is alive – if you are not breathing, it is likely that you are dead or dying. Breathing is an action that we take for granted and do without thinking. That is, most of the time. Usually we don’t give much thought to inhaling and exhaling, how long we take between breaths or how deeply we are breathing.
Sometimes, circumstances change this. If you over exert yourself, for instance, you might feel “out of breath.” If you have a cold, cough or bronchitis, you may have to “fight for your breath.” Chronic respiratory issues or conditions cause even greater difficulty in breathing.
For most of my life, I have been blessed with a strong respiratory system and the ability to breathe well. As a youth and throughout my life. I played a trumpet (wind instrument) enjoy vigorous and strenuous work and exercise (gym, running, walking Great Danes and bicycling) and participated in a vocation which required breath control and voice volume.
When I was injured about six years ago, this all changed. Not long before I was discharged from the hospital, a doctor advised me that I must take care of the three B’s: bowel, bladder and breathing. (Since then I’ve also learned that one’s “bottom” also causes issues.) At any rate, breathing and respiratory issues are of great importance and concern to a quadriplegic.
So a few weeks ago, I contracted a common cold. I didn’t think much of it at the time but it’s been a challenge to get rid of it. More than that, the nasty thing has sent me to the ER on a couple of occasions. Just when I think I have it beat, it surprises me with a real fight. Usually, breathing treatments (nebulizer) give some relief.
Last Sunday evening after struggling for most of the afternoon with breathing issues, I was preparing to get into bed. I figured that a change of position and the nebulizer would do the job and I would get some relief. Wrong! Instead, my breathing became very labored, my throat was closing and I had to force myself to breathe. “Inhale… Exhale… Inhale… Exhale…” You get the picture.
All of a sudden, my breathing passages closed. I not able to breathe in or out! Judy helped me change my position and I was finally able to breathe a little. My good friend, the in-exsufflator or cough assist device, usually very productive, was of little help this time. God answered our spoken and unspoken prayers; we made a five-hour trip to the ER. Chest X-rays: no pneumonia (praise the Lord), prednisone prescription; add a few days and I’m fine now. Thanks be to God.
Needless to say, breathing has been on my mind lately. I’ve been thinking that breathing is quite similar to faith in Christ. Trusting in Jesus alone is a sure sign of spiritual vitality. Those who have been supernaturally born into God’s family trust in Jesus quite naturally. Throughout our lives, God exercises us in various ways to strengthen and develop our faith and trust in him. We learn not only to depend on him for forgiveness but also for wisdom, direction, guidance, encouragement, strength, etc. So our faith deepens as our relationship with God develops.
Faith is like breathing! A professing Christian might go for quite some time and I give faith much thought. Then problems occur – some minor and some major, which drive us to Christ. We turn to him and seek his help. We have learned from experience that he is completely trustworthy. As he has promised, he will never leave us or forsake us. This kind of “workout” occurs frequently throughout life.
Although faith is quite natural for a believer, sometimes it is tested and we must give it focused attention. There are times when we “inhale and exhale… Inhale and exhale…” At times like these, we need the encouragement of Scripture and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This often comes to us through faithful wives and husbands, Christian friends and perhaps even the Christian media. Nevertheless, it is most helpful to have Scripture portions, Psalms and sacred songs stored away in your memory. Christian creeds can also be beneficial.
Your best assets, however, are passages from the Bible. Here’s how it sometimes works for me: Inhale… “God is my strength and refuge.” Exhale… “An ever-present help in time of trouble.” Inhale… “The Lord is my shepherd.” Exhale… “I shall not want.”…… Inhale… “Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Exhale… “For you are with me.” Inhale… Jesus says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Exhale… I am with you always, even to the very at the age.”… You get the picture – repeat as often as necessary!
A few years ago, I was visiting someone in the hospital and inquired of their physician regarding their condition. He suggested that pretty soon. This individual would likely experience a “fatal event.” Euphemisms do not change the certainty or finality of death. Death usually comes as a shock and surprise, even for those who are lingering.
Many may not have the opportunity to contemplate, let alone think in their final moments. I suggest that you prepare even now for that inevitable “fatal event.” Here’s what you can do:
- Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Call upon the Lord and he will pardon your sins. Guaranteed: “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
- Confess your faith in Christ by joining a Bible believing and Bible teaching church. Sit under the Preaching of God’s Word, benefit from the sacraments of Baptism and The Lord’s Supper. Enjoy the fellowship of God’s people. Save the bulletin or worship sheet and utilize it in private worship.
- Begin to systematically read the Bible, starting with the New Testament. As you learn what God wants you to do, do it. Learn to pray the Psalms; memorize some verses which are especially significant to you. Ask other believers about their favorite verses. You’ll be surprised with the overlap and get some good ideas.
- Begin to share your faith with others. Tell your friends and family about your new and growing relationship with God through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Christian, your future is far better than your present. Remember the words of Jesus “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:1–6, ESV)