Monday, July 25, 2011


Evaluation of breathing is one of the most common and important assessments that doctors and nurses perform.  With stethoscope on chest we get our patient to breathe deeply.  For adults we simply ask them to take a deep breath.  For infants we might blow gently in their face which causes them to inhale deeply.
Some patients, however, just won’t breathe deep for us.  No matter what you say or do, they simply will not take a breath!
You can politely ask them to breathe.  You can sternly command them.  You can show them how you breathe and why you enjoy breathing.  You can plead with them, bribe them, guilt-trip them, even threaten them.   You can startle, frighten, or tickle them.  You can blow in their face.  You can tell them how popular it is to breathe, that many of their friends breathe.  You could try reasoning with them, giving them, say, four good reasons they should at least give breathing a try.  You might present them with survey results showing that people who breathe lead much more successful lives than those who don’t.  You could walk them through the complex physiology of breathing or maybe show them the latest research revealing convincing evidence that breathing prolongs life.  You can show them results of a poll showing them that 99% of all respondents believe that regular breathing is good.  Still, they will not breathe.
They are the most obstinate of patients. Unwilling, even to listen.  I have never been successful nor I have never heard of any of my colleagues being successful nor are there reports in the medical literature any instances of doctors having success at convincing this sort of patient to take a deep breath.
Tactics fail.  No matter how well prepared for and presented.  No matter our sincerity, concern, and good intentions… patients in cardiac arrest simply will not take a deep breath.  They won’t listen, nor will they respond.  Ever.
One hope remains.  Resuscitation.  In this instance, breath must be placed into the patient.  Breath from elsewhere.  Breath from Elsewhere.
We are inclined, sometimes, to forget that people to do not find Breath merely because we want them to.  Strong and well-executed apologetics can fall short.  Christian celebrity testimonials may fall short.  Saturation marketing falls short.  Television advertising, slick evangelistic tools, polished seeker-targeted programs fall short.
Imbedded deeply, yet significantly, within the word “resuscitate” is the Latin word “citar,” which means “to summon” or “to call.”  It is God Who calls, not us.  When we are resus-citated, we are literally “re-summoned”….called again to enjoy life.  “Summon me and I will answer,” Job prayed.
A patient in true cardiopulmonary arrest will die without external intervention.  A dead man can do nothing to save himself.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  Ephesians 2:8   Breathless we lay, dying.  Unable to help ourselves.  God then, in mercy, stoops down and freely offers us His Breath.  Resuscitative breath.  Reviving breath.  “Re-summoning”  breath.

The summons comes from God.  He alone resuscitates.  The only hope for we who are dead is that our lungs would expand with the Holy Breath of God.  Divine CPR.  Through no effort of our own, God in His mercy performs His resuscitative work on us.

“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation.”  Psalm 85:6-7 

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