Breathing is incredible, when you stop and think about it. Though I’m no biologist (far too squeamish to be one), I know a few basic things about it:
(1) It not only draws in gases that are vital to our survival, it also expels gases that would otherwise poison us. That is clever, and a pretty handy mechanism too.
(2) We breathe thousands of times a day. I have seen various averages quoted, ranging from 18,000 to 30,000. I haven’t counted, personally, but I know that it’s something I do a lot of.
(3) We don’t need to be taught how to breathe—because we know exactly what to do as soon as we emerge from the womb. We have to learn some extremely basic things as babies, but not this.
Indeed, perhaps it is this last point that makes us so blasé about the whole process. Because it comes so naturally to us, we never really have to think about it, so we don’t bother to! At least, not until breathing becomes difficult all of a sudden.
I found myself thinking very much about breathing recently. In fact, I could think about little else. Unfortunately, whilst I could think about it, I didn’t seem to be particularly capable of actually doing it. I had contracted a rather nasty throat infection that caused an inflamed throat. Breathing became difficult and painful. During my recovery, lack of sleep and food left me feeling extremely weak and incapable of doing many things, but I learned to rejoice in the fact that I could at least breathe relatively easily again and no longer had to endure that growing sense of panic, wondering if the breath I had just taken would be my last.
But whilst I did think a little bit about the three points I mentioned above in the first paragraph, the main thing I was reminded of was that God gives me every breath that I take. He is described in Isaiah 42:5 as this: “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” (NIV, emphasis mine).
I am totally reliant on God for my next breath, and for every breath beyond that. And whilst I had always known that, it was all too easy to take it for granted—at least, until my next breath became very much the focus of my attention. Now that I am more aware of its importance, breathing has actually become a relief! It is refreshing to know that each inhalation I make is in His hands. For whilst this process might come naturally to us, that doesn’t provide me much comfort in reality as my physical body often lets me down in other regards.
But God on the other hand, is faithful and loving (Deut.7.9). He will give us the strength—and therefore the breath—to carry out the plans which He has for us (Jer. 29:11). Who better to trust with every breath we take?
Written By Alan Humphrey for YMI