Thank God for Every Breath

Yael Eckstein  |  November 22, 2022

Woman in the field rejoicing

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD.—Psalm 150:6

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a renowned Jewish theologian, once said, “It is gratefulness which makes the soul great.” Please enjoy these devotions focused on gratitude during this season when families gather to give thanks.

Imagine you are in grave danger. You’ve fallen into deep rushing water and the current is pulling you against your will. You struggle and flail around in the water and begin to feel yourself sinking, unable to gain control, unable to breath. Then suddenly, you feel someone’s arms around you, taking control and pulling you to the surface, pulling you to safety.

Imagine how grateful you would feel. Just moments before, you couldn’t even take a breath — and now you can breathe. Your life has been spared.

The truth is that every second of every day, God gives us air to breathe and allows us to live another day. Breathing is something almost everyone takes for granted. It’s the first thing we do when we are born and the last thing we do when we die. We do it even when we are sleeping or when we aren’t thinking about it.

Psalm 150, the very last psalm, is all about praising God and being thankful. The last line reads, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! [Halleluyah!].]

Thank God for Every Breath

The Hebrew for breath is neshama, the same as the word for “the soul.” In other words, the soul, the life that God breathed into Adam’s nostrils, the breath that continues through every living person to this day, is reason enough to praise God. King David’s parting message to us is to be grateful for everything that we have, starting with the ability to take our next breath.

The Book of Psalms is mostly about praising God for our blessings or praying to God to rescue us during difficult times. For most of us, praise and thanks to God happen when we receive some obvious blessing, like being healed from illness, or when we are materially blessed beyond our expectations. And that’s a very appropriate and natural response.

But how many of us praise and thank God for the gift of breathing, for life itself?

The last verse of Psalms reminds us that no matter how difficult our circumstances, we can always be grateful for our ability to breathe and the fact that we are alive. As long as we are living, we can hope, fix, change, and grow. When we can thank God for every breath, we can be grateful for everything.

Your Turn:

Take a moment. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. As you feel yourself breathing, be grateful to God for the gift of life.