Skip to main content

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.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The ARC of Racial Justice - a Reflection and Exhortation from Pastor Matt Lorish

Here we are again. The video footage of Ahmaud Arbery is all over social media. It is a time for lament and a time for righteous anger. I write this blog post as a continuation to the initial posts offered by Northside Church members. My aim in this post is to help my fellow white brothers and sisters think about where we go from here. At the close of Jemar Tisby’s book, The Color of Compromise , he introduces a framework that he calls the A.R.C. of racial justice. Using Jemar’s framework, I’d like to humbly offer some application points that I think are important for me and my fellow white sisters and brothers at Northside Church to move towards. I also write this as a Christian pastor. Christians of all ethnicities are Bible people. The end-game for us isn’t just racial justice. The end-game for us is conformity to Jesus and honoring Him. Racial injustice is one of the areas in which we need God’s Spirit to change us, grow us and conform us (Rom 12:2, 2 Cor 3:18). My prayer is

"Racism is sin. Let's treat it that way." by Sam Vaughn

Racism is sin . People are sinners. I am a person. I am a sinner. I am stained by the sin of racism. I commit the sin of racism. I omit the righteous deeds that undo and push back the sin of racism. I have stayed silent when it benefited me, rather than speaking when it would have benefited my brothers and sisters of color. I have defaulted to judgment rather than sorrow, when an unarmed Black person is shot to death. I remember when Michael Brown was shot and killed, watching the news coverage, the first thing I focused on was what he ‘must have done to cause it.’ I sought for a flaw in Michael Brown’s character as if that should be worthy of death. I engaged with other nationally covered events in a similar way. Embracing a narrative that made me comfortable was functionally more important to me than the God-given lives of image bearers like Eric Garner and Tamir Rice. I have been indifferent, and uncaring. Over the past year I have ignored the increase in violent hate crimes agains

His face was set for Jerusalem, so we can choose suffering too

My heart was arrested and blessed as I received my sister's prayer request this morning and saw her covered-up body (but sure-can't-cover-it-up glory). As is so often the case, she reminded me of our veiled-in-flesh Jesus. When she set out for Stanford, I wonder how excited those were who knew her. I wonder if they imagined how she might use that crown. What fame, what riches, what glory might follow. As He set out for Jerusalem, I wonder how excited those were who knew him. I wonder if they imagined how He might use that crown. What fame, what riches, what glory might follow. It was no mistake that He found Himself in Jerusalem. His face was set for it. To pay the penalty for our sins, to die while rescuing. He knew all along why he was going and what it would cost him. But we were worth it to Him. It was no mistake that she found herself with Covid patients today. Her face was set for it. Because He did what He did for her, she can risk while rescuing. S