Thursday, November 22, 2012


It's was a strange feeling that I felt, holding my young daughter whilst she was writhing in pain and struggling to breathe.

It was late at night and my daughter was in a lot of pain. There was nothing else for it, it was time to call an ambulance. I tried to keep calm as my fingers fumbled on the buttons. I tried to control my voice as I explained the situation to the emergency operator, whilst in the background I could my daughters cries. The operator assured me help would soon be with us and as I hung up the phone I felt a real feeling of helplessness. My wife went to get dressed and so I took over cuddling my daughter. She was fighting for every breath, her sternum raising and falling with great difficulty. She clutched her stomach and began to vomit. She was scared and so was I.

She couldn't explain what was wrong, but something deep within her was in great panic. Whatever it is within us – that urge to breathe was being tested to it's uppermost. As she clung to me, there were a few moments when I truly thought that she might not make it. It seemed that every breath was becoming more laboured and I found myself almost waiting for her to stop. As the minutes passed while we waited for the ambulance to arrive, I began to feel angry. Didn't they know that my little girl was in desperate need? I then began to worry – perhaps in my panic I had given them the wrong address or not made myself clear?

Of course I prayed – the kind of desperate heartfelt emergency prayer that seems so natural in our times of desperation. As the minutes went by she began to calm down and although still in obvious distress, was much better by the time the medics arrived. They whisked her off to hospital and did what they needed to. I'm glad to say she is fine.

But it did get me thinking about that strange compulsion we have; the desire to survive. Our bodies are wonderfully made. They operate without our conscious thought: our hearts keep beating and we keep on breathing. I believe it is good that we have no conscious control of these things. After all, if every breathe was a struggle, would there not come a point when, in our pain and anguish, carrying on might seem like too much effort? But no, we don't have the ability to do that. Most other activities and functions require effort. But in the case of breathing it actually requires effort not to breathe. And this is due to something very basic in our design. You may attribute it to evolution, but I attribute it to a rather cunning bit of design work by God. And that, I think, is because even when we are ready to give up, He ensures we can't – it's an area where we don't have free choice, and I'm glad of that. Because life is a wonderful gift of God and we should count everyday as a blessing, embrace the life we have and make the most of it. Life is for living, don't waste it – because one day, when our breathing does finally stop, we shall meet Him and give an account for what we have done or not done with His gift of life.

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