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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Air Hunger

Then the Lord God formed a man. He made him out of the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into him. And the man became a living person.
(Genesis 2:7)

I am blessed with two grandsons with lots of energy and a tremendous amount of zeal for life.  Both suffer from asthma, but none had been as severe as the youngest was this week.  I watched as the youngest suffered through his "air hunger" in our pediatric emergency room.  As I sat those long hours seeing his little body work so hard to take in breath, my heart ached for his struggle.  His condition deteriorated, requiring oxygen and strong medications to assist in reducing the inflammation.  It took hours, but eventually this little life began to respond to the treatments rendered.  

In those hours of waiting, I could not help but think about the joy it gives God to breathe life into his creation - you and me!  He gives us our first breath and he continues to allow us the ability to take in breath each and every day.  The idea that God gives breath is amazing - but, that he is affected by how that "breath" is consumed is more amazing!

Air hunger is a condition described as deep, rapid, and labored breathing caused by an increased respiratory drive due to abnormally low blood oxygen levels.  For those of you that I just lost, let me break this down.  The body is deprived of oxygen for a period of time due to some force (like constricted airways) and the brain kicks in to "force" the body to take in as much oxygen as it can as quickly as it can.  The muscles of your chest, your diaphragm, and sometimes almost all the muscles of your torso go into an mode of "assisting" your lungs to get air in and old air out.

This sometimes results in relief if the issue was that you were just "air hungry" because you were a little over-exerted as in doing something that drives your respiratory rate up - like running, climbing lots of stairs, etc.  This type of "hunger" is quickly remedied through rest.  In a spiritual sense, we have times of "air hunger" when we are running hard, facing huge challenges.  We usually find we "catch our breath" in a spiritual sense by taking time to rest in God - like a retreat.

There are times when our "air hunger" is more severe - like with asthma.  The body actually shuts down the very passages that allow air to pass through, making it almost impossible for air to get in or out of the lungs.  The same can be true for us in a spiritual sense - we get so "clogged up" - working against God instead of with him.  The only way to reverse this is to deal with what is causing the "shut down" of the passages!  God often has to bring us to a place of spiritual "air hunger" in order to get our attention!  We struggle to hold on long enough, we fight to do things on our own long enough, and eventually we realize that we need more than we are able to do on our own.  We need the one who gives breath to breathe new life into us again.

I was touched by the fact that God watches his creation go through repeated periods of "air hunger" in a spiritual sense and that it affects him deeply to see us that way.  He watches us suffer long periods of time sometimes - because we don't seek him for the resolution of the issues leading to our spiritual "air hunger".  My little grandson did NOT want that oxygen in his nose, he resisted the breathing treatment, and he hated all the extra attention from all those nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists.  But...it was what he needed!

God does not want us struggling in our spiritual "air hunger" - he wants us to have a free exchange of the breath of life!  Struggle not, dear ones!  Breathe deeply of his graces!