There is a small industry of “wall art” and plaques that simply say, “Just Breathe.” The idea is to remind us that when we’re facing troubles and challenges and our anxiety levels are going through the roof, to “just breathe.”
The Bible has much to say regarding this “just breathe” theme and it, of course, centers around the One who grants us each breath — Jesus. As the Psalmist reminds us, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me” (Psalm 28:7). A very rough paraphrase could be, “Trust in Jesus, He is your strength and shield and ‘just breathe’ in His love and care for you.”
Likewise, the Apostle Paul reminds us to “just breathe” when he says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).
Isn’t it interesting that Paul adds, “And be thankful?” I have a hard time with that one. When the pressure comes and my world is closing in around me, I don’t feel very thankful. When evil rears its ugly head and families and nations are torn apart, I feel angry and hopeless, not thankfulness.
“Just breathe,” Jesus reminds me, “focus on me.”
Do this right now: stop reading this letter, take some deep breaths, and focus on Jesus.
Did you? Can you feel His peace and comfort? I did and yes, I find my heart and soul have found peace. With each deep breath I’m reminded there is much I can’t begin to understand, but I can trust Him. I’m reminded that He loves me more than I will ever understand and that there is no sweat on His upper lip.
Then a strange thing happens, I find that I can be thankful.
We recently wrote about Maria Mesa de Echeverri in Medellín, Colombia. Our October Missionary of the Month struggled with debilitating anxiety and depression for seven years. Then she met Jesus. Her family and friends hardly recognized her shortly thereafter with her joyful spirit and smile. Maria could finally breathe again.
Back in February, our Missionary of the Month was Diana Mendieta in Ecuador. Her community has been overwhelmed by cocaine traffickers and drug-related violence. She took a long deep breath of Jesus and instead of retreating to some safe space, she started a Center for Bible Studies because she sees that the real problem is not drugs, but spiritual hunger.
Geraldo Torres, our Missionary of the Month from January 2022 in Puerto Rico absolutely loves LOGOI’s Guía Pastoral notebook. He was so excited to have it, he had to give his copy away because it was too good to keep for himself. When our Grandma Carolyn found out he gave his away, she sent him another. But he gave that one away, too. I’m not sure how many more times this has happened, but I have the sense that Geraldo is “breathing in Jesus” and can’t help but be thankful… and generous.
By the way, we’re so thankful to the Lord for you. Thank you for praying for us and for the over 30,000 national missionaries we encourage and serve. Thank you for giving some of your hard-earned dollars in support and partnership with us. God uses you to help us “breathe.”
Yes, our world has so many, many troubles. We may struggle to feel thankful, even during Thanksgiving. So we invite you to “Just Breathe” in Jesus. Let His love, joy, peace, and sovereignty fill your heart and mind. Take in deep breaths… and be thankful.
P.S. So often our world and lives seem to be in such a mess. Sleep and rest can be hard to find. The song Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep) is a great reminder of what to do when worry and anxiety seem to get the best of us. I've teamed up again with the talented Jon Michael Ogeltree for the arrangement and piano. Enjoy the video, get some rest and just breathe...