The Reason Why Jesus Came: Reflecting on 2021

This is the last post of Breathe Pray Repeat…

…of 2021.

2021 has been an interesting year. For some, it’s been better than 2020, but for others, not so much. There’s been a lot of grief and loss for far too many this year. I know quite a few people who have lost loved ones, and my own family has been affected by grief after my grandmother and uncle passed away this summer. People are suffering, and just when it seems that burden has lifted, something else often happens to cause more grief.

As I began to reflect on this Christmas season and the mood many are feeling at the end of this year, I thought again of the song my church’s youth group sang for Christmas:

“For the broken, the unworthy, You came. Jesus, You came. For the wounded, for the hurting, for the lost, and for the lonely, You came. Jesus, You came.”

When I think of all the pain and loss many of us are feeling at the end of this year, I remember we’re exactly the kind of people Jesus came for. As Jehovah, He hadn’t experienced the same kind of sadness and grief and weariness until He wrapped Himself in flesh and became the Messiah, our Savior Jesus Christ. He chose to walk and live among us and suffer sadness, grief, and persecution ALL for us. When Lazarus died, Jesus cried. So, He knew and knows what loss feels like.

You may feel defeated, weary, and weak, but Jesus came to lift that burden and give you hope. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

We have hope we’ll be reunited in Glory with our loved ones who have passed. We have hope we’ll get through every trial and come out of it stronger than before. When the joy of the Lord is your strength, you can learn to find joy and gladness even in the midst of less-than-ideal circumstances.

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Romans 15:13 (KJV)

As I look back over this year, I see a lot of sorrow and hardship for my own family. But I also see a lot of good memories. I see a lot of good people who have been there for us and with us through it all. I see how God carried us through our loss. I see how God blessed me with a job that I desperately needed. I can see the blessings of God even through the bitterness of difficult times.

And that gives me hope—hope for a great 2022 even if some things don’t go my way.

As you’re reading this, if you’ve suffered some kind of hardship this year, I want you to know Jesus came for you. He came to be your comfort on those sleepless and sorrow-filled nights. He came to be your strength when you can’t stand another day. He came to fight your battles against spirits of depression, infirmity, and despair. He came so that you might have life more abundantly, and He came to give you salvation and a future with Him.

Jesus, our Jehovah, had the first word in the beginning, and He has the final say.

This Christmas and New Year season, remember that you are never alone in whatever struggle you’re facing or battle you’re going through. Remember that you’re the reason why Jesus came.

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Matthew 1:21-23 (KJV)

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Thank you to everyone who has read Breathe Pray Repeat this year, and a very special thank you to every person who wrote a guest post on BPR! You are all amazing, and I’m so thankful for you. I hope to bring more great content to you in 2022 and more great posts from guests that will encourage you and draw you closer to our God.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

~Caitlin

On the Potter’s Wheel: A Guest Post by Camrie Houck

Tears slipped down my cheeks as I roared down that road in that little red car.

“Jesus, why am I so broken?” I uttered as I felt as though I couldn’t be put together again. I felt like I was damaged beyond repair.

But Jesus.

As I sobbed, I felt God’s comfort wrap around me, and I heard him say, “Yes, you may be broken, but you’re in the best place you can be. You’re broken, but you’re in my hands.”

Just these past few weeks, I have been broken. While life spun along around me, I stayed in the hands of the Potter, the very best place to be. When it feels as if everything in life is breaking us down, when life feels as though it’s completely and totally spinning out of control, you very well may be on the Potter’s Wheel.

Rest assured, dear friend, that even on the Potter’s Wheel, you are still in the hands of Jesus. Perhaps sufferings come not as a thing meant to break us, but to reshape us.

Sometimes, things that we have picked up in life, calloused wounds, and attributes that we are not meant to have are broken off of the jar known as “us.” We often misinterpret the surgical knife in the hands of the most knowledgeable surgeon as a knife murderously held at our throats. We mistake what was meant to reshape us for something that will break us.

Sometimes, some things come so that the glory of God might be revealed. As 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of power may be of God and not of us.”

Moving on to verses 8-9, we read this:

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (KJV)

Rest in this, dear friend.

“Perhaps sufferings come not as a thing meant to break us, but to reshape us.

Camrie Houck

You may feel as though there is something wrong everywhere you look. You may be perplexed, persecuted, and cast down, BUT you are not destroyed, you are not in despair, you are not forsaken.

You ARE in the hands of the man who loves you the most. The God of the universe who desires to commune with us.

Remember, even in the breaking, even in the shaping, even on the Potter’s Wheel, you are in the hands of Jesus.

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From a young age, Camrie has loved to write. Starting a blog has been a long-time dream of hers, so she finally took the leap and started her blog, Camrie Writes, in September 2021. On any given day, you can find Camrie working on her first book, teaching, or talking with family and friends about teaching or writing. Camrie is also a full-time public school substitute teacher and is studying to teach middle school. Be sure to follow along with her blog on Facebook or Instagram (@camrie_writes)!

BPR Update + Thought of the Day

Today, I will not be posting a regular blog post. Life has been busy this week, and I did not want to rush through a Bible study post just to have it posted by today. Have no fear, dear reader, for I will be posting a regular blog post next Friday. Because I love and appreciate all of you very much, I’ll go ahead and give you a sneak peek at next week’s topic: people’s reactions to sin. Yes, next week on BPR you’ll read a bit about my take on the reaction to sin among many Christians in society today and on how we should react to sin.

Now, I also wanted to share with you a brief thought in light of recent events in my family’s lives that may apply to many of you. Over the past couple of weeks, my family and I lost both my grandmother (my last surviving grandparent) and my uncle, and I know of many who have passed away this year or over the past year from the “vid” or other illnesses. Many people in the church are feeling a lot of pain and sadness right now. Brokenness and loss have visited many homes and afflicted many hearts.

I know that my family has felt the prayers of the church, and the peace of God and support from friends and our church family have helped alleviate a lot of the grief that comes with losing a loved one. I also know that when you’ve lost a loved one, the only one who can truly help you carry on and get through another day is, of course, our God.

He is the God of comfort, after all.

When my pastor spoke at my grandmother’s gravesite service, he said a few things I wanted to share with you that might comfort you or someone you know who has lost a loved one. He mentioned that many people say when someone passes away that we’ve lost them, but you can’t lose something when you know where it’s at. He also said, “We are not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We are in the land of the dying going to the land of the living.”

So many beloved children of God have traded their tents on earth for a mansion in Heaven and are now rejoicing on streets of gold before our King, free of pain and suffering and sorrow. They’ve finally made to where we are planning to spend eternity.

Recently, I was going through Psalms and stopped at chapter 34. I believe there are many verses in this chapter that offer a lot of comfort to those who are feeling grief, hurt, or brokenness, and so I wanted to leave you this week simply with this chapter to offer some encouragement:

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing….The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

Psalms 34:1-10, 15-19 (KJV)

“We are not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We are in the land of the dying going to the land of the living.”

Pastor Tony Wyatt

5 Things To Help You Overcome Depression

Mental Health Awareness Month takes place the entire month of May, and the theme this year is “You are not alone.”

For those who struggle with depression, overcoming it is not as simple as others might think.

There are those who might say, “Everyone gets depressed. Just get over it,” or, “If you really wanted to be happy, then you would be,” but they don’t realize that overcoming depression does not come so easily as simply wishing for it to happen. As someone who has struggled with forms of depression and who has many family members who have as well, I’ve seen and experienced the difficulty in trying to force yourself to “be happy” even though you feel sad, heartbroken, abandoned, and alone. It often results in burying emotions that need to be worked through and addressed only for them to rise again later and leave you more broken and shattered than before. Forced healing is not lasting healing.

Because May is mental health awareness month, I’ve decided to share with you and those who are struggling five things that have helped me in the process of overcoming feelings of depression. Of course, this post may not be entirely applicable to those who are suffering from severe or clinical depression. If you or someone you know is suffering from clinical depression, please know that there is no shame in reaching out for help, receiving support from a psychiatrist, or asking for prayer. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of because, yes, many people do suffer from various forms of depression and feelings of sadness to varying degrees.

“Forced healing is not lasting healing.”

Instead of trying to ignore or bury those feelings, here are five things you might try to help you begin the process of overcoming it:

1. Listen to music.

Now, some of these tips may seem basic, but just hear me out. When I’ve struggled with depression, almost every single time, I’ve managed to find comfort and feel God’s presence through new Gospel songs I found. One song in particular that spoke to me when I was struggling was “Defender” by Francesca Battistelli.

Listening to music, or music therapy, has proven calming effects that can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. When one listens to music, be it instrumental or soothing music, it can help that person experience his or her emotions on a deeper, more visceral level. It may even help clear the mind and make one’s emotions easier to understand.

Just any music doesn’t prove helpful to me, however, which is why I encourage listening to Christian music. As Christians, we understand that our help comes from God, but when we’re struggling with caring for our mental and emotional health, it sometimes becomes necessary to plug into other avenues that help us connect better to His presence. Don’t just listen to the music, but meditate on it. Find new songs that speak to what you’re going through and let yourself praise Him as you listen.

2. Listen to sermons.

We listen to messages over the pulpit every week, but sometimes, it helps to search for an extra word from God throughout the week when we’re feeling overwhelmed with sadness or anxiety. God can minister to us today even through an old message posted to YouTube five or more years ago. One such sermon that I heard when I was struggling and that I’ve returned to often is Victor Jackson’s message at General Conference 2019 called “The Forgotten Anointing.” For those who are weary and full of grief, this message may just be the word from God that will help you begin to heal.

Whether you search for sermons based on what you’re going through or by a preacher you’re familiar with, consider taking notes while listening to the sermon. Write down how God might be speaking to you through the message and ways you can apply it to your life moving forward.

3. Do focused Bible studying.

This one might seem like another no-brainer to those who study the Word consistently, but doing some focused Bible studying is a great way to work through what you’re experiencing by researching it in the Scriptures.

When I found myself in a dark place once, I realized the one thing that might help me get through it was if I could just feel the comfort of God again. So, I began doing a word search for “comfort” in my phone’s Bible app that contains the Strong’s Concordance. As I read verse after verse and studied the original Hebrew meanings of “comfort,” I immediately felt God’s presence. By the next morning, the heavy burden of grief and sorrow that had weighed me down had lifted immensely.

Doing some focused Bible studying on key terms or events in the Bible can help you understand the biblical approach to what you’re experiencing and will take you closer to the presence of God.

4. Get (and stay) involved in church.

It’s natural to want to take a step back from responsibilities at church or even not to want to attend a service or two when you’re struggling with depression, but it’s when you’re struggling that you need that foundation and consistency in your life the most.

Find new ways to get involved in ministry or new ways to use the gifts God has given you for His Kingdom. Go to every service. Continue worshipping God in the worship service and at the altar call. Attend special events or services. Keep in touch with your pastor and church family.

Although it may be difficult and you may feel at times as though you have to put on a smile and pretend you’re okay, the consistency of fellowshipping with the people of God and serving in His Kingdom is one of the most important steps in overcoming depression. The consistency and strong foundation that come with being involved in church bring much needed comfort and peace when you’re going through turbulent times or spiritually dry periods.

5. Do fun things.

Depression can make you feel as though you’re barely surviving and are unable to enjoy even the simplest parts of life, but don’t stop trying to find positive and uplifting things that can make you feel a little less sad for a little while.

Listen to music as we already explored above, or go out to breakfast or lunch with family or friends. Go for a walk at a park. Read a book. (If you need some reading inspiration, stay tuned for next week’s post when I’ll share some book ideas for your summer reading list!) Take a short trip on a day off and go to the lake or hiking or for a simple country drive. Write down your thoughts in a journal.

Whatever you do, do something that takes your mind off your stress and grief and pain if only for a moment and bask in that moment of relief. Every little moment of peace adds up, and eventually, you might find yourself going from feeling sad to being just okay to finally realizing that you are and can be happy in your life in spite of what you’ve gone through.

Overcoming depression is not an easy process and does not look the same for everyone. If you find yourself struggling harder with overcoming depression, try the above tips that have helped me.

Remember that our God is a God of peace. We can find the comfort we need in His presence and in the presence of our church family. Even though you may feel alone, you are not alone. You can overcome depression and be stronger than you were before.

“And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 (KJV)

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16 (KJV)

5 Scriptures for When You’re Hurting

A woman dealing with grief

When you’re in pain, sometimes there are no words that can adequately describe what you’re going through.

Whether it’s a physical pain or emotional pain, that feeling of hurt can reach so deeply that it stretches far past the limits of your vocabulary.

People may ask, “How are you feeling?”

And you don’t know what to say. You may not even be exactly sure how you feel.

But we have a Savior who knows our hurt better than anyone. We have a God who experienced physical and emotional pain and who understands grief, hurt, anger, and suffering. We have a Comforter whose words are the only ones that can stretch past the limits of our vocabulary, reach into the deepest trenches of our anguish, and ease the burden of pain and sadness.

If you’re struggling with hurt, here are five Scriptures from His Word that offer an encouraging perspective:

“My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”

Psalms 73:26 (KJV)

“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.”

Psalms 147:3 (KJV)

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”

Matthew 5:4 (KJV)

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

1 Peter 5:7 (KJV)

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

Revelation 21:4 (KJV)

God is our strength when our heart fails and our body cannot carry us any further.

He is the Healer of our heart and the Mender of our brokenness.

We are blessed even in our mourning. For when we are in pain and sorrow, He comforts us.

When it’s too much for us to bear, we can surrender all our grief and despair to Him because our God truly cares for us. If it matters to us, it matters to the Master! He knows the pain we’re feeling even when we can’t put it into words or understand it ourselves.

And when our pain seems to overwhelm us, He reminds us of the promise that one day, our God Himself will wipe all tears of sorrow from our eyes, and we will no longer feel any more sadness, grief, or pain.

Just a little bit longer, and we’ll be with our King in eternal joy and freedom forever!

“There’ll be no sorrow there, no more burdens to bear, no more sickness, no more pain, no more parting over there; And forever I will be, with the One who died for me, what a day, glorious day that will be.”

“What a Day That Will Be” by Jim Hill

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Schedule Update: There will be no blog post this Friday.

If you’d like to read more about Scriptures on comfort, check out this post from my series on studying comfort in the Bible.

A Light in Darkness | Stories of Grief and Loss

Grief is something with which many of us are all too familiar. Although we may try to distract ourselves and pick up the pieces after a great loss, that grief we’ve tried to bury still lingers, waiting for some small moment or phrase to rush those painful memories back to the surface of our thoughts. How can we deal with our grief when it seems impossible to keep on living without all we have lost?

Today, you may find the answer to this question in this guest post below from the Pentecostal Publishing House blog. A version of this article was posted here

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If you have experienced a loss of a loved one or a dear friend, allow A Light in Darkness: Stories of Grief and Loss to offer comfort. Reverend Scott Graham writes an introduction, saying “No one wants to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. It is rocky. The footing is uneven. It is steep at times, and falls are not uncommon.” The valley of the shadow of death is an ugly passage that all must pass through when grieving loss.

Stories of Grief and Loss

Maybe you’ve lost a spouse, parent, child, or a dear friend, and you realize you lack strength to make it through the dark valley alone. It feels lonely and scary. What if someone who made the journey before you could help—someone who could share insights from their experiences, the lessons they’ve learned, and things that helped them cope? That’s what A Light in Darkness is all about.

You will hear from writers who have lost parents, a spouse, a friend, siblings, a child, and more. The same questions you may be wrestling and grappling with right now, these writers also wrestled with. Know this: it’s okay to question, closure comes gradually, and God hasn’t turned His back on you.

You will want to meet these writers and read their letters. They are addressed to you, dear friend.

If you know someone walking in the valley of the shadow of death, consider giving A Light in Darkness as a gift this Christmas. These stories of grief and loss will offer comfort and hope.

Resources and Links

A Light in Darkness