The Power of a Sneeze

It’s that time of year.  My entire family has spread the coughing, sneezing, hacking stuff.  I’m in the midst of it, and with a workshop tomorrow I’m trying hard to get over it in order to keep from sounding like a hoarse horse when I speak. IMG_5390Thankfully, I’m better today.

Sneezes and coughs can travel further than you might think. shared the results of a recent study done at MIT, which has been considered a potentially groundbreaking discovery in helping identify the spread of germs.

“[The study] changes our current ideas of how far germs can spread in aerosols such as coughs or sneezes,” Mary B. Farone, Ph.D., associate professor of biology at Middle Tennessee State University, told “We used to think if we could see the spray, that was the limit of the dissemination, but this study shows that tiny particles, such as bacteria and viruses, can be spread much further on gas clouds.”

These gas clouds allow germs to spread beyond the air right in front of our faces.

“This changes our perception of what needs to be cleaned, especially if these clouds of microbes reach ventilation systems which can then spread the germs even further,” said Dr. Farone. “Because the germs can be carried through ventilation systems, make certain that filters in air vents are changed regularly and use filters that trap small particles like bacteria and viruses.”

So, now that you are fully grossed out and wondering if your sneeze could end up affecting someone on another continent…I want to flip this to a positive, spiritual thought.  God’s spirit is always at work, and we have no idea how God can use potentially insignificant acts of compassion–or words of kindness and boldness to impact people close by….and far, far away.  There are spiritual forces at work far beyond what we can see with our eyes, or really even imagine.  I have heard amazing stories of one person’s words, invitation to study the Bible, or an act of kindness having impact far beyond the initial action.  The Bible tells us to expect this.

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.
Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.  Ecclesiastes 11:5-6 (NLT)

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.
It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.   Isaiah 55:10-11 (NLT)

This morning I watched a video that moved my heart, and reminded me of the far reaching power of compassion.  It will be worth your while to take a look:

And this was a heroic effort to save physical lives.  Eternal life is of much greater significance.  God has given us eternal life—and words we say, or actions we do can have eternal impact if we keep on sharing and doing good.

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.
No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.   Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)

So, if you sneeze—please cover your mouth.

And if you do good—let it go and let God work.



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  1. Trish Peters

    Thanks, Jeanie. Keep those thoughts coming.

  2. Jeremy Minsk

    Thanks, Jeanie!


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About Jeanie Shaw

After retiring from forty-five years in full-time ministry, Jeanie Shaw went back to school to earn her master’s and doctorate in spiritual formation and discipleship. She also serves as a certified Christian life coach who loves helping people discover the joy, peace, and purpose that come from finding and following God’s plan for their lives. She has taught classes and workshops all over the world and has written numerous books. She has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and a golden retriever who thinks he is human. When she is not reading, writing, coaching, teaching, or enjoying her family she might be found walking along rivers, learning new lessons about life.

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