Sunday, 21 July 2013

Breath of life

This little girl has been with us for almost two weeks on oxygen - such a cutie, right? :) Poor little bub had a bad case of bronchiolitis and it was an epic struggle to get her off the oxygen. Anyway, most of you would know that I aspire to be an anaesthetist (or anesthesiologist for the Yankees among us). It's not an accident that in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, A (for airway) comes before B (breathing), which in turn precedes C (circulation). An obstructed airway kills within seconds (at most, minutes), and hypoxia (poor oxygenation) is more lethal than hypotension (low blood pressure). Of course, in reality, these three factors are often interlinked and rarely occur in isolation. In my current hospital, the greatest amount of oxygen that we can deliver is 5 litres via an oxygen concentrator (compared with 15L on a normal ward back home). And things in the capital aren't much better, as I recently found out; apparently the concentrators in the main public hospital in Juba goes up to 8 litres (only!).

It reminded me of the story in Ezekiel 37 where God breathes life into a valley full of bones. In the passage, God commands Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, saying, "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord...these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, 'Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!'...Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel...I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land." (vs 5-6,11-12,14).

No matter how long we have been dead in our hearts (as indicated by how dry the bones were), God is (as some preachers are wont to say) in the business of resurrection. One of my favourite verses in the Bible is Ephesians 5:14, where the Apostle Paul writes, "Therefore He says: 'Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.'" Note the sequence: just like the Creation account in the first few chapters of Genesis, rhema (the revealed Word of God) anticipates life. It was His breath that made it possible for us to live; once at our birth into this world and again when we are born of the Spirit (John 3:6). Don't you think it makes a rather nice parallel - how breath is vital to life both in the earthly and spiritual sense?

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