A very common stress-relieving technique is deep breathing exercises. When an individual purposefully exercises the involuntary act of breathing, it can provide a moment of relaxation in the midst of a real life storm. Ever wondered why? The breath of life, which God gave to Adam (Genesis 2:7), changed a form of dust from the ground into a living being. The letter-for-letter translation of the Hebrew word that the King James Version translates as “being” is nephesh; and that word, in other parts of the Scriptures is most often translated as “soul.” God used the breath of life to create a living soul. Likewise, the letter-for-letter translation of the New Testament Greek word psuche originates from the Greek word that means, “to breathe.” Psuche is the origin of the English word “psych” or “psychology;” and it is most often translated in the New Testament as “soul” as well. Other translations include “life,” “mind,” and “heart.” Mark 8:35–37 is a great example because the word psuche appears four times:
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Twice it is translated “life” and twice it is translated “soul.” Therefore, in the Hebrew language of the Old Testament, and the Greek language of the New Testament, the essence or “soul” of who we are as creations of God can be traced back to, and renewed by the simple act of breathing.
It is interesting that as a human being or a human soul, we have three parts (mind, body, and spirit) that make up our being. Through our understanding of the Trinity, God is One Who also has three parts (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). After all, we are created in God’s image. Caring for the soul does require focus on all three parts.
When your body is healthy, your thoughts and emotions are at peace, and your relationship with God is growing; you have a very well balanced life that has the greatest opportunity for loving and healthy relationships with others. Yet, when one or more of the parts of our soul is out of balance, life can be a very difficult struggle. Additionally, the negative actions of others often negatively impact us to exacerbate that struggle. During that struggle, it is easy to want to blame God.
Wm. Paul Young wrote a wonderful book in the Christian fiction genre titled The Shack. To highlight his understanding of the Trinity, Young developed three characters that represent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When “Papa,” which is Young’s character that represents God the Father, is speaking about the struggles of life she states:
“Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I needed it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me. Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.”
God does not orchestrate tragedies. Yet, we live in a fallen world, and sometimes the struggles of life are difficult to navigate. During those times, as well as when life is wonderful, our job is to care for each aspect of our soul, thankfully receive God’s grace, give grace to others, develop relationships that are healthy, and seek opportunities to share God’s love. When you need a reminder that God’s presence is real in your life, take a deep breath and remember that God’s breath is the source of life; and by accepting God’s grace from the Cross, God lives in you.