Before our first child was born, Brad and I took a series of classes to prepare us for childbirth. My Lamaze instructor told us I would need to breathe through each contraction while in labor. She gave specific instructions. “Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth.” “When you inhale, allow your belly to expand first, then your chest.” I learned that the way I breathe would affect the way I experienced labor.
I spent time learning how to breathe in a whole new way – so my labor breaths could be purposed and controlled. This required discipline. I practiced, and I practiced the special breathing techniques in preparation for when labor pains came a-knocking.
On the day we welcomed our baby boy into the world, I learned what a discipline breathing through contractions really is! There were times during labor I felt like holding my breath instead of breathing. Times when the pain was so intense that my natural response was to scream instead of to breathe. This type of breathing was totally a learned behavior, a purposed discipline. And on the other side of the pain and purposed breathing came the blessing of life.
I’ve labored through many hard life experiences since my child birthing days. I’m sure you have too.
There are times when circumstances press us in waves, contractions of life that are seemingly endless. When the waves of trials hit our heart and home, the spiritual discipline of trusting God helps us to breathe through the squeeze of each pressure. I like to call it faith-breathing. When we hunker down and put into practice the act – the discipline – of faith.
What do I mean by “the discipline of faith”?
Paul wrote about it this way. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25, NIV)
Just like I learned to breathe in preparation for going through labor pains, Christians learn to breathe through life pains when we implement spiritual disciplines in our lives. Strict training, as Paul calls it, like prayer, fasting, worshiping and reading the Bible. These purposed disciplines bring a greater joy and strength that fuel us to run hard after the prize of God’s promise in Christ.
The more we pray, the more we grow in intimacy… in relationship with God.
The more we read and learn the Bible, the more we understand God’s will, power and character. We see repeatedly that God is good, faithful, compassionate, loving, gentle, merciful, just, holy, righteous and trustworthy in all things.
We’re encouraged and spurred on by the faith of those who have gone before us.
We learn to faith-breathe!
Life is filled with challenges. Thankfully, God is always with us and is available to help us breathe through the difficult situations we face. Struggles send us running to God for help, for strength, protection and direction. They are often pregnant with pain. Bursting with heartache. Yet, when we yield them to God, He uses challenges to rid our lives of trust-barriers like fear and doubt, and to bring glory and honor to Him.
Trusting God takes discipline.
We don’t always feel like it.
At times we feel overwhelmed and want to soul-scream.
But if we always acted on our feelings, our lives would be chaotic messes. And nobody wants that.
Life contractions hurt all of us, but no earthly pain can diminish the hope of our salvation. We simply need to breathe – by practicing those spiritual disciplines that bind us to the heart of God.
As in childbirth, there finally comes the time of deliverance where what is birthed forth to joy is directly the result of the very pain we have gone through.
Please teach me to breathe! I’m sorry for the times I scream through the pain. Help me be disciplined to read your Word and meditate on your Truth. Thank you for the joy and strength you give as I trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE
What contraction of life is the Lord nudging you to trust Him with today? What would trusting Him with that look like?
Read over the verses below. Write them on note cards and review them until they are committed to memory.
“…all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27b).
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)
Love doing life with you!
Today’s post is adapted from Trusting God by Sharon Jaynes, Gwen Smith, & Mary Southerland by permission of Multnomah, division of Random House, Inc. Are you ready to begin a new faith adventure? Get a copy of the book from Amazon, Gwen’s website or your favorite Christian retailer.