I came through the door of my office with the intention of putting my clipboard on my desk and then proceeding five minutes late to a meeting that I had promised to attend.

The day hadn’t been any more chaotic for us than normal, though some of the situations recorded on my clipboard indicated that I had walked through some very uncertain and difficult times with the people involved in those situations that day.

My mind began to wonder if I would take time to eat lunch or just skip it again, when somewhere deep in my heart I heard myself say, “Just breathe.”

Breathe in, breathe out. We do it 12 to 14 times a minute without thinking. At rest, our lungs take in six liters of air a minute.

When we work hard, we can take in more than 100. Breathing is a miracle that we don’t stop to think about very much. It’s involuntary; we just do it.

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I think that made COVID so difficult, some people were just breathing one day and struggling the next.

God created us with the capacity to breathe, to sustain our physical lives, and he has given us a way to breathe spiritually to enrich our spiritual and emotional lives. Breathe. Peace be still. Fear not.

They are ways of creating space, of inviting us to stop. Breathing is far more than the physical exchange of air in and out of the lungs. It is one of the most profound symbols in scripture.

“Breath” in both Greek and Hebrew is equated with God’s Spirit.

For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. — Job 33:4

Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into his disciples. Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” — John 20:22

Think about it. When the Bible talks about filling our lungs with breath, or that very breathing gives us life, it is not merely spouting eloquently about air. That biblical breath is the Holy Spirit.

This is comforting. You have been breathing every day of your life, and that very breath is symbolic of God’s spirit with you!

Even now as you read these words your chest is rising and falling — God’s spirit is flowing in and through you! Just think of how many times, just since you started reading these words, you have breathed. Probably you have no number, but you can say with certainty you did it without having to consciously think about it, or remembering to do it.

Without your being fully conscious of the reality, God’s Spirit has been flowing through you.

Breathe. In my case it meant breathing deeply as a result of the families whom I had been serving, so that I could turn my attention to the next. Because each patient or family needed not only for me to be present with them, but needed the breath of the Holy Spirit to be urgently with them at such an important time.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded to breathe and be, just be present with His Spirit. Not to worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will bring its own worries but just be and live in the moment (Matthew 6:34).There is more than this crazy life. Breathing brings us spiritual oxygen. Breathing brings us life.

A Prayer When We Need to Breathe

Lord, there are times when we feel like we are suffocating, moments when we are desperate for air, feeling the weight of life is crushing our chests.

We are stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed with the burdens of life for ourselves or for others.

We need you. Give us room to breathe. Help us breathe out stress and breathe in the peace of your Holy Spirit. Breathe out worry and breathe in the trust. Breathe out fear of the unknown and breathe in the very presence of the living God.

You, our Creator gives us physical breathe, and You, Our Savior and Lord, provides spiritual breath. Your presence living within us giving us strength and peace when we have none on our own. Amen.

Brenda Lee, B.A., M.Div., B.C.C., is senior staff chaplain and director of pastoral services at Great Plains Health in North Platte.

Editor’s note: Area ministers who would like to be part of this feature can contact Editor Joan von Kampen at 308-535-4707 or [email protected].

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