rebelling against low expectations

When Life’s Hard… Breathe In


Take a deep breath in. Now breathe out. God is active in your life. Breathe in, again; breathe out. God is active in your life. Breathe in, breathe out. God is active.

Every single breath that you breathe is a gift from God — a deliberate act of God’s will to give you yet one more breath of life, and another, and another.

God is not done with you.

Look all around you. There is life!

Look up at the sky, marvel at the mountains, admire the trees—see the people? There are so many people!

People with their marvelous relationships: there’s the stability of childhood “besties” and college buddies and the complexity of guy-girl relations.

There’s children and elderly.

There’s black and there’s white.

Some people live in dry deserts; others live in swamps and rainforests, or in cold tundras.

There’s life, and beauty — diversity and unity. And it’s all good! And all good things come from God. Every single pure pleasure, worthy word, and splendid sunrise comes straight from the heart of God.


Breathe in, breathe out. It’s a gift, a deliberate gift. God’s not done with you.

The world is full of God’s goodness — God’s glory.

But through the cracks evil is allowed to reign. A dark cloud rises and reigns over the world. Darkness rules this place and causes our vision to blur.

At times it is hard to even see the light — the glorious light of God, Jehovah.

We see “darkly,” meaning, our perspective is incomplete.

We must not lose faith and thereby lose sight, but we must press on toward the goal.


Breathe in, breathe out: another gift from God. He’s at work, actively using you for a glorious purpose.

All good things come from God, but for some reason God allows all bad things to happen, though He initiates none of it. We can shake our fists at God and accomplish nothing, or we can submit to His sovereignty and hold tightly to His promises of goodness and love.

And one day when the time is right and we have finished the fight, He’ll penetrate the darkness and His Light will burst forth and shine upon our limp bodies.

His love will swoop down caressing our hearts, warming our souls and we’ll live — truly live, perfectly worshiping God, Jehovah, Prince of Peace, Counselor, the Messiah our Rescuer, the One Who was, is, and is to come.

And we will know that every pain and struggle we ever encountered in the darkness was nothing compared to the glory we will experience there, forever, and ever, and ever.


If you are human, then I am positive that you will experience intense struggle of some kind, at some time.

It’s worth it. And it is full of meaning.

It probably will not feel very meaningful. At times you will feel like walking out; you will feel like you have done something wrong.

But hang in there. Every excruciating moment is full of meaning.


“Let everything that has breath…” Breathe in. “Praise the Lord.” Breathe out.

God is a mystery to me. Not only must glory come through suffering, but furthermore He wants us to count our blessings in spite of the pain, and focus on the positive. He does not want us to ignore the pain, but to choose to rejoice in all things, even painful things.

This is hard. It’s hard for me to rejoice and praise God when I don’t feel positive. How can I say God is good after my Mom dies in a car accident? How can I say “I love you God! You are so awesome and good” when often all I feel is pain and anger?

But I am coming to the conclusion that love has very little to do with feelings and everything to do with choices.

Sure, feelings play an important role, but ultimately love comes down to a choice of choosing to seek another’s happiness above your own even if it does not feel good — and in God’s case, we find that His happiness becomes ours as well, if we seek His with all our hearts.


Of course, in our painful suffering we need to be real. We cannot shove pain under the rug or pretend it does not exist. If we do this it will never be resolved, it will never heal, and then for sure no one will benefit.

Yet in the pain, in the middle of the chaos, by the grace of God we must submit to Him, lift up our hands, and say “Blessed be your name, no matter how I feel!”

And when it comes down to it, what else can we do? Where else can we go? God is the source of Life. Let us continually come back to God — to the source of Life. In fact, let us make Him our infatuation, our love, our passion.

Pain will come, but let’s not be controlled by it. Let’s stand up to the darkness and let’s say “My life feels terrible, sometimes I wish I could die, but I know that God is completely good and deserves all my praises and all my blessings! Bless His name! He is worthy of my humble song!”

Breathe in, breathe out; breathe in, breathe out; breathe in, breathe out. It’s a deliberate gift.

God is active in your life.


“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits.”

– Psalm 103:1-2

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”

– Psalm 150:6

Photos courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons and Image specific credits coming soon.

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About the author

Christopher Witmer

is the 24-year-old Editor-in-Chief for Originally from Northern Minnesota, he lives with his family in Los Angeles where they moved to plant inner-city churches. He loves sports, travel, and music, but his passion is writing for God and lifting high the name of Jesus through his writing.


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  • “Let everything that has breath…” Breathe in. “Praise the Lord.” Breathe out.

    I see you breathing son!

    Yesterday as I heard you pounding out praises on the piano, I just melted in tears… because I know about the pain you’ve experienced. But it struck me… my tears are not tears of pain at all… instead, they are tears of joy!! Joy for the freedom you are experiencing in spite of the pain. And wow!.. I’ve shed boat-loads of tears over the past 10 months and three weeks since Mom died… it feels SO GOOD to be shedding tears of JOY!!!

    Thanks, Christopher, for helping me breathe in… and BREATHE OUT!!!!

  • Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

    And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
    Romans 5:3-5.

    Yes. Yes, every breath, a deliberate gift. The complexity of a human’s lungs, their heart, the entire respiratory system…a deliberate gift from God. He is active…
    Recently, due to a miscommunication in the doctor’s office, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. But, several appointments and second opinions later, we’re told it’s actually pre-cancerous cells which are benign still, and, although she’s opted for a double massectomy, we rejoice! Because it could have been so much worse. We’ve known many people in our lives who have died from some form of cancer; it is one of my mother’s worst fears. And by no means are we out of the woods yet. But by God’s grace and blessing, we don’t have to fight that battle. And we may never have to. My mother is anxious still, and she has a reason to be, but God tells us to ‘be anxious in nothing’. And we rejoice, because He has done a mighty work in our family; He has brought us closer together and to Him through this than we had ever been before…Praise Him, for He is good, and all good things come from Him. Rejoice. Praise Him.

    • Again, Sadie, your comment is an encouragement to me! [Sorry, I thought I had responded earlier. 🙁 ] Wow, blessings to your family as you rejoice at the real diagnosis and yet still process everything that this means for your mom and family!

      I rejoice to hear that your family has been brought closer! May God continue to work! He knows what is best, but it’s still hard sometimes to trust Him!

      Praise Him, yes, Praise Him. He. is. good.

      • Yes, thank you, Chris; there are tough times ahead, but praise God for his faithfulness.
        Trust, yes, trusting is difficult, especially when you have no control. Through the times to come there will always be anxiousness, and fear, uncertainty and distrust–but we must fight to ‘be anxious for nothing’, as God is in control…yes, He knows best, and ‘all things work together for good for those that love the Lord.’ The thought that popped into my head with admonition to trust Him were words to the Sunday School song: Trust and obey, for there’s no other way……
        Again, thank you Chris; may He remind us each day of His goodness and faithfulness. And may He do the same for you through your struggles.

  • Thank you for writing this article – you had some good things to say, and I believe your heart is in the right place. 🙂

    That being said, you did make a statement that is unbiblical and represents God in a false way, so I’m going to cry foul on that point. Even though this aspect of God can be a difficult one, hopefully the verses below will help you to see more completely who God is, and to rejoice in Him.

    You stated that, “All good things come from God, but for some reason God allows all bad things to happen, though He initiates none of it.”

    Going straight to Scripture:

    “See now that I, I am He,
    And there is no god besides Me;
    It is I who put to death and give life.
    I have wounded and it is I who heal,
    And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.” -Deuteronomy 32:39

    “I am the Lord, and there is no other,
    The One forming light and creating darkness,
    Causing well-being and creating calamity;
    I am the Lord who does all these.” -Isaiah 45:6b-7

    For other scripture references, and further reading, I would suggest this article by John Piper written after 9/11.

    I hope this has been helpful. His ways are certainly higher than our ways! May He give us grace to understand and treasure Him more and more.

    • Thanks for providing insight and balance! “Iron sharpens iron”, as the Bible says.
      Here’s another verse that the article you cited didn’t mention:
      (Exo 4:11) And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?

    • Thank you, Nathanael, for your balancing perspective! I must say that the more I process this concept the more I agree with you. So thank you for pointing that out, I appreciate what you said!

      However, I am cautious to make the pain that God brings–and maybe even initiates–a focal point of who He is. I do not think that God at all enjoys crushing us. Believe me, I have felt “crushed” by God many times, whether He simply allows it or actually initiates it does not matter to me: it hurts, but I accept it AS FROM GOD because He has the power to stop it either way. If there was a better way, I believe He would take it (e.g. New Covenant better than Old [Hebrews 8]), but for the time being, He knows this is best–for His glory and our ultimate happiness. And the pain God brings is not arbitrary, but for specific purposes.

      This truly is something we each must wrestle through and come to accept as a part of who God is. I am sure that you would agree too, that God is not scared of our complaining, or anger–we must not dull or stuff away our ability to feel pain (when we do that, we can no longer feel joy). But we must focus on the fact the God’s glory is His GOODNESS. He is so good and full of everlasting love–He deals gently with us! This is why we can accept pain from Him. Like I said in my article, I don’t always FEEL this way about God–but I choose to believe it because I know it is TRUE despite my feelings. Often when I remember God’s everlasting love and strength and that there is incredible MEANING in every painful event He allows/brings, then many positive feelings come.

      Anyways, thanks for helping me stay “sharp” as Johanna mentioned. 🙂

      Blessings to you!

      • Glad those thoughts could be of some help – and thank you for taking it so well!

        I think a good verse to complement what you’re saying is the classic Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

        I don’t think we should try to play down some aspects of God’s character, but I think you’re right to point to His goodness. As the verse says, even when God brings/allows pain, what’s the purpose and end result? Good!

        Although we don’t always recognize it as such in the moment, everything God does is good, because HE is good! And that is a glorious, beautiful truth. 🙂

        Thanks you for your insights and heart for the Lord!

        In Him,

    • first off I want to make sure this is clear that Nathaniel has interpreted God in the wrong way! I thought it was a little weird that those scriptures mean what they did, so I looked up the Greek meaning of the word kill, and you might be surprised by what I found. in this verse kill means to kill spiritually, but the second part,”and I make alive,” means to recover(to life), restore(to life), repair, and revive(your life). interesting huh?

      Isa 42:3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

      see that verse? a bruised reed represents a hurting person, a smoking flax represents spiritually when you are not reading your bible or praying or going to church etc. isn’t that great! when you are bruised he won’t break you, when you aren’t doing very good spiritually he won ‘t put you out. he will heal you to better than you ever were. just like how Job was restored everything he owned and more. if he could do it for Job he can do it for you.

      God is a God of love, BUT he is also a just God, and he is no respecter of persons.

      your brother in Christ – Grant

      • Grant, thank you for taking the time to research and leave feedback.

        However, I don’t think your argument that the scriptures listed above were interpreted incorrectly is correct. I looked up the Hebrew word for “death” (which is how it reads in the NASB), and by all appearances it looks like it means “death”, in the typical sense.

        Also, if you reference the article I linked to, there’s other verses to support my original argument. Even if you could alter the meaning of one verse, it wouldn’t change the consensus of Scripture.

        God is infinite; we are finite. We don’t always understand Him; but we need to be careful to see God for who He is, and not try to fit Him into what we think He should be. 🙂

        I hope this helps.

        God bless,

  • thanks,it’s so beautiful~~~
    breathe in and breathe out…praise my Lord. I’ll try to stand still and wait for my Lord’s guidance.

  • Wow. Just wow. I’ve thought of some of these things before, but this is put together so beautifully. A few Scripture verses came to mind as I read this; I looked them up, and they are all from Psalm 46, a psalm that I have lately been thinking about. GOD is my refuge; be still and know that HE IS GOD. There is so much pain in the world, so much pain in every life, but just to rest in God – that is enough.

  • Beautiful article. I really needed this after two weeks of stress. I admit there where times when I thought it would be better if God took me from this earth, but He is Faithful.

  • Thank you so much for your post!
    I had received the post via email a bit ago but have been so busy I hadn’t looked at it until now. I wish I had read it earlier; it is exactly what I had needed. Though a Christian, I have been struggling with a lot of anxiety and depression on and off in the last 6 months, and have since this past summer contemplated suicide various times – a very scary path of consideration. I praise God for the support of family and close friends who have helped me and encouraged me through the Scriptures, and God for keeping me safe and helping me to sin the selfishness and evil of suicide. It is still a struggle at times, but God is great and mighty, and He promises to sustain us in times of hardship. As God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9). When I am weak and broken, He is strong and repairs me. Under His care I have no reason to fear, no reason to despair. No reason to pursue my own death.
    Thank you for your encouragement.

    • Wow, Amanda! Only God could orchestrate something like that! I’ve never seriously considered suicide, but at the point where I wished death would just happen. For some reason we’re still here, still breathing. God’s not done with us!

      Yes, God is the amazing sustainer, but even much more–He is our very life! Without Him we are nothing.

      Praising God with you! Blessings!

  • this one had me in tears. i never give myself time to breath in and breath out. i am missing out on alot because of it. thank you so much!!!

By Christopher Witmer
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →