I must have played Cops and Robbers a dozen times as a kid, but one particular game stands out in my mind as the most memorable. It is still quite vivid. I was in the robbers’ team, and I was waiting for the opening I needed to leave the base and rescue my fellow robbers who had already been captured. Meanwhile, my best friend, one of the cops, was watching as my body tensed for action. I counted to three and made a mad dash for the enemy base. My friend made hot pursuit. I tried to shake him off, but he had targeted me as an eagle would target its prey. Within seconds, he caught the tail of my shirt. The momentum threw me forward, although my fall was cushioned by the fact that he was still holding on to a part of my shirt.

The whole incident would have ended right then and there, but I suddenly found myself gasping for breath, my vision darkening. I started to panic. “I can’t see,” I said in a trembling voice and feeling very afraid. By that time, my mom and some other grownups had appeared by my side, instructing me to take steady breaths. They held some ammonia under my nose to keep me from passing out. I was eventually brought to a clinic some minutes later to be observed. On the way to the clinic, my vision started to return. The doctor gave me a favorable diagnosis. Nothing was seriously wrong with me apart from exhaustion and a couple of cuts, but I learned that day to be more careful not to exert too much during a physical activity. I was, after all, asthmatic.

I look back at this memory and realize the importance of breathing. Breathing is the surest sign of physical life, and as long as one breathes, he or she continues to live. No breath means no life. No life means darkness, emptiness, and in some ways, worthlessness.

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6, NIV). For some time, this verse allowed me to reflect on the connection between life and praise. When God first created life, He also created praise. Look at nature, and you’ll see how each manifestation of life—flowers blooming, wind blowing, trees swaying, livestock braying—also appears to give recognition to the One who created all things.

I’ve come to the realization that praise is a sign of life in pretty much the same way that breath is a sign of life. Breath shows physical life. Praise, on the other hand, shows the vibrance of a spiritual life. A person who is spiritually alive is able to praise, just as a person who is physically alive is able to breathe. On the other hand, a person who is spiritually dead has a hard time praising God because he doesn’t really know God enough to praise Him. A person who is spiritually dead is one who hasn’t invited Jesus into his heart yet to transform him from a life of death, sin, and worthlessness, into one brimming with life.

We all have physical life because we breathe. Spiritual life, however, is a different matter. True spiritual life comes from knowing who the one true God is. It comes from seeking a relationship with the Creator. It comes from recognizing that the physical life means nothing unless the Lord is an active part of it.

We were made to praise our Creator. If you feel that your life is empty, dark, and worthless, then you may be living a spiritually dead life. The Lord wants to bring life into your spirit. He wants you to experience the fullness of life just as He had created it—one where you don’t just breathe, but one where you also commune with the great and awesome Creator with a sense of joy and fulfilment. If you desire to experience this life, say this prayer right now: Dear God, I feel that my life is not truly worth living unless I have a personal relationship with You, the One Who created me. I desire to know You and to experience the life You’ve created for me. Please show me what it means to be your child and to live a life of praise to You. Amen.

By: Juco Antonio O. Rivera