“I’m thankful I can breathe.” Who would say such a thing? Don’t we all take breathing for granted? Not a woman I know who had multiple sclerosis. Her symptoms are severe. She’s unable to walk. And she can’t talk clearly. Swallowing is difficult at times. Yet, she praises God for allowing her to still breathe. She rejoices in being alive.
Breathing is a sign of life. A breath is sometimes associated with strong emotions. A beautiful sunset can leave us breathless. In awe of God’s majesty.
Breathing a certain way can be beneficial. Taking a deep breath can restore calmness. Slow, cleansing breaths promote relaxation. Those exercises can even help distract from pain. Ask any mother who relied on them during labor.
Even young children can find breathing exercises helpful. When one of my second graders sobbed uncontrollably I’d say, “Take a deep breath….Now breathe out…Take another deep breath…And breathe out slowly…” Gradually, they’d calm down.
That method could help a child with mental illness (MI) deal with anxiety. Some individuals may it helpful in reducing worry and apprehension.
Breathing can be severed temporarily. By bad news. When someone is told about the sudden death of a loved one, they gasp. As if it’s impossible to take in air, while absorbing the information. Breathing is halted at the shock. Only to resume when tears begin to flow.
Do you find yourself holding your breath as you face another day? Not knowing what kind of day your child with MI will have. Not sure what will be required of you. Wondering if you’ll be up to the challenge.
As I researched ‘breath’ in the Bible, one passage described how I’ve felt at times. It’s a familiar story in Ezekiel. The Lord gave Ezekiel a vision of dry bones being brought to life by God’s breath.
“The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’
“I said, ‘Sovereign Lord, you alone know.’
“Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord (Ezekiel 37:1-4).’”
Those dry bones represented people who were hopeless. And lifeless.
“Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off (Ezekiel 37:11).’”
Dried up. No hope. Cut off. But God promised to breathe new life into His people.
“Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord (Ezekiel 37:12-14).’”
Moms raising kids with MI can sometimes feel dried up, without hope, and cut off. We often need to be filled afresh with His Spirit so we can live again.
There’s hope in the breath of God. His breath has power to create. Like when He gave life to Adam:
“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).”
And when He created the starry hosts:
“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth (Psalm 33:6).”
Job attributed his very existence to the breath of God. He said, “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4).”
Isaiah reminds us that it is God who gives breath to all people. With His almighty power, He can make all things new.
“This is what God the Lord says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: ‘I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles …See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you (Isaiah 42:5-6, 9).’”
The One who gives breath will take hold of your hand.
Do you think your situation is too impossible for God? Consider the story of Lazarus. Christ breathed new life into a person without life.
“When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face (John 11:43-44).”
Ask God to breathe new life into you. To make something new in your situation. Be renewed with hope as you listen to Hillsong’s ‘Breathe on Me.’