Every breath

Cancer patient models faithfulness as the coronavirus ravages Europe

How do you live when you are slowly dying? When you struggle for your every breath?

I’ve been thinking a lot about death, for someone who is only 25 years old.

Many streets in Eastern European cities, which are usually busy with activity, were much quieter during the season of quarantine.

I’ve been learning how to live from the dying.

Svetlana* is one of our closest national partners. She has cancer.

Every Friday, before the quarantine, we opened up the doors to our little pharmacy-turned-church-plant.

Nadya* took notes. She’s learning she can read the Bible. She came faithfully, showed us new handicrafts, the embroidery on her shirt.

We talked about God’s provision for the widow whose son died. We talked about anxiety.

Svetlana boldly shared the gospel, and sometimes she’d wheeze, gasp, stop to cough. Someone would hand her a cough drop. She’d thank us and continue.

And I—I at 25—don’t struggle for breath.

But so much of my breath is spent in worry. So much of my breath is spent struggling for control of days I haven’t seen yet.

Aren’t we all struggling for our every breath?

Aren’t we all slowly dying?

It can feel like every breath is stolen. Especially when the world is in quarantine, borrowing breath. Every few minutes, a new news article enters the global conversation about this virus.

It feels unfair. How dare death stare us all in the face—seeing past our masks, our illusion of control, the illusion that every breath is our own.

But what if it’s just the opposite? That every breath isn’t being stolen from me, but that each one has been given.

Svetlana, she knows.

She knows each breath is given by the only One who gives life.

Every breath we take is grace—undeserved, unmerited favor.

What is grace? What is the gospel? Who am I, really?

Friends, we do what we do—we share the gospel, we disciple, we church plant, we train leaders—because we all need the gospel.

Because death is staring us all down—the rich, the poor, the sick, the healthy, the young, the old.

And we deserve death.

We’ve earned death.

But we, we have this hope. That the God who gave—who gives—us our every breath—in Him is life.

There is no fear in death.

So boldly, we draw breath, and we proclaim the good news—that our God saves.

And not just that He can heal us physically, that He provides here, but that He gives life eternal.

Every day, Svetlana and her family publish a one-minute video from quarantine.

A few weeks ago, I heard that Nadya began following Jesus.

Each new breath—a chance to trust Him with the life He has given.

So, let’s sing it into the unknown, sing it out with this breath—given and taken away—blessed be the name of the LORD. (See Job 1:21.)

Please pray for:

  • the peoples of Eastern Europe, that they will know Jesus.
  • Svetlana and her family as they seek to follow Jesus—planting churches and sharing the gospel—with every breath He gives. Please pray, that if it is His will, she will be healed and have many more breaths to share the gospel.
  • Svetlana’s husband and three children—for faith and trust in the Lord.
  • The church plants that Svetlana and her family serve.
  • That the gospel will be proclaimed boldly across Europe and the world as we all face the reality of death.

*Name changed for security