It Hurts to Breathe

It Hurts to Breathe

by Russ Lawson

Almost daily I receive notes from my readers from around the world. Most are encouraging. A few point out some flaw of mine or mistake I have made. On occasion I receive a note like the one below. If it doesn't touch your heart, nothing will.
"My name is Kim. My very precious grandson died Tuesday morning. He was only 3 months old. I know that God is in control, but it is so very hard to remember that every hour of the day. Please pray for my family. We need lifting up to the Lord. This is the most horrible thing I have ever had to go through. It hurts to breathe. I know that God will not give us more than we can handle, but this is killing me. Thank You, Kim"

I don't know Kim, but I wish I did! She is just one of many Christians scattered around the world. For many of us, the Internet is a lifeline! We are able to daily reach out and touch someone else. Sometimes we reach out to hear about some problem of our Christian brothers and sisters and sometimes to share some heartbreak of our own.

I have thought about the message I would like to share with Kim and others facing similar tragedies. Sometimes we hurt so much that "it hurts to breathe"! Every breath we take is filled with sobs of anguish and tears of sorrow. As much as I would wish it were otherwise, there just is no quick fix! There is no easy way to rid us of the sorrow of a loss like this.

So to Kim and to all of the rest of you who are dealing with heartbreak let me tell you that you are not alone! I love the picture given to us in Hebrews 12. Here the writer is talking about our fight against sin and our need to remain faithful to God. He gives us some reasons to hang in there and hold on to our faith!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God's throne in heaven. Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don't become weary and give up. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

I don't know if we can really appreciate the picture here — of a stadium full of people who have all been through the same things we are going through. Some are in the stands cheering us on. Some are running along beside us encouraging us to hold on to our faith and finish the race. In other words, we are not alone as we endure our tragedy. Even though it may seem like little comfort to us at the moment, hang on, because things will get better! Just keep your eyes on Jesus. Don't lose that vision!

Next consider with me the story of King David and the death of his son. He had committed both adultery and murder. God was forced to show the people that he would not accept sin, even from King David. God sent a prophet to tell David that his newborn son would die. Notice what happens:

David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. The leaders of the nation pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused. Then on the seventh day the baby died. David's advisers were afraid to tell him. "He was so broken up about the baby being sick," they said. "What will he do to himself when we tell him the child is dead?"
But when David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. "Is the baby dead?" he asked.
"Yes," they replied.
Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, and changed his clothes. Then he went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the LORD. After that, he returned to the palace and ate. His advisers were amazed. "We don't understand you," they told him. "While the baby was still living, you wept and refused to eat. But now that the baby is dead, you have stopped your mourning and are eating again."
David replied, "I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, 'Perhaps the LORD will be gracious to me and let the child live.' But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me."
(2 Samuel 12:16-23)

That is the faith we need today! That we could accept the death of a loved one, especially of a precious child with the statement of faith, "I will go to him one day," and then get on with life.

My wife and I have had to deal with the death of one of our grandchildren also. Our daughter-in-law miscarried before he was ready to be born. You might think that it wasn't quite the same as having gotten to know a child for days, months, or years. But we had gone through the same rejoicing and celebrating with the pending birth that continues after that child is born. He was already a part of our family and already loved.

It was a test of our faith, but we were able put it all in God's hands and turn loose of the grief. I loved the fact that when I asked our son how he was doing when it was all over, he quoted those words from King David.

For those of you who are dealing with this type of tragedy, I don't intend to sound flippant or uncaring. Spend the time necessary to mourn, and then turn it over to God. Know that there are others who can feel with you in your grief and pain and that you are not alone. Having done that, make the commitment that you will live your life in such a way as to someday be with the one you lost!

May our God give us the strength to endure what we must to live with him forever, even when "it hurts to breathe"!

Posted: 03/20/2004
URL: http://www.heartlight.org/articles/200403/20040320_breathe.html

(c) 2004 Russ Lawson <rlawson@mfth.net>, Messages from the Heart <http://mfth.net>. All rights reserved.

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