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We can't breathe - a reflection from Rachel Wiggins

“I can’t breathe.”

Who is saying these words today?
George Floyd.
Eric Garner.
Black men and women murdered in the streets.
Black women and men checking the news, re-traumatized again.
People being rushed to the hospital.
People knowing they can’t see their family member who’s on a ventilator.
Nurses and cashiers facing another panic attack as their bodies try to cope with the stress of their jobs.

You know where I can’t imagine these words being said?
In the Garden.
When I read of Adam and Eve walking with God, I picture full, deep, to-the-soles breaths.
No stress making their breaths shallow, no fear tightening their throats, no arms or knees stealing life from God’s beloved, beautiful creations.
Breaths filling in and filling out, slowly and deliciously exhaled.

God is described in Genesis and throughout the Bible as “the One who gives breath to all living things.” God created us with BREATH.

Today we see our breath stolen from us because of a physical virus infecting our lungs, a spiritual and structural virus infecting our nation, sin infecting all mankind, sin showing up in our individual lives in personal ways.

Are you, like me, trying to get through today without breathing? Do you remember the last time you took a deep, life-giving breath? You may not. Maybe that was stolen from you by trauma or racism or neglect or fear, near or past.

You may find it easier to cope with the murders on the news and the deaths in the hospitals by pretending like you don’t need much breath. Just some short, shallow inhales to get you through the day.

God, please give us our breath back, even when it feels easier to deny that we need it.
God, please give us our breath back when it’s been stolen from us.
God, please give us our breath back. I want our black and brown brothers and sisters, the parents of black and brown boys and girls to be able to take deep, gulping breaths as they run and shout and leap, running because of joy and strength and freedom and You.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Bring justice in the form of free, unfettered, life-giving breath.
God, please give us our breath back. I want our eldery, our asthmatic, our other-risk-factor sisters and brothers to be able to take deep, gulping breaths as they laugh and talk out in the world, out of their houses, free from anxiety, full of You.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Bring wholeness in the form of deep, peaceful, joyful breath.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Remove the words “I can’t breathe” from this earth and restore to us our breath, to your glory.

Rachel and her husband Cody are new to the area. They are incredibly thankful God led them to the Northside of Richmond and to Northside Church. They have already learned so much from and felt so loved by this body of believers. They look forward to working out more and more with this community how to be joyful worshipers, nurturing family, and engaged neighbors


  1. Genesis 2:7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

    Yasssss, Rachel, I agree with your prayer! May our God restore to us the breath of life that the enemy keeps stealing.


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