Why the Pain and Suffering?

Jesus said unto him, rise, take up thy bed, and walk. – John 5:8

Life happens to all of us – the good, the bad and most certainly the ugly. Why? In our creation we were granted free will by a God that desires our love not our mindless devotion. That decision has allowed us to make our own choices – including bad ones. There are consequences to every action, every innovation, every word that is spoken. We suffer from not only our mistakes, but the mistakes of others, whether directly or indirectly, made today or centuries ago that continue to effect generation after generation.

Christians are never promised a perfect, pain-free life, no one is, but we are assured that we will not face life’s challenges alone or without reward. It is in these times that we find the strength of our character, the depth of our compassion, the measure of our faith. It rains on the just and the unjust alike (Matthew 5:45), but we are watered to grow, not left to drown.

-Sue Breland, Worship for One©

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Why So Downcast?

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? My hope is in God: for I shall yet praise Him. – Psalm 42:11 (KJV)

While these days seem difficult, discouraging and frightening for many, these are far from the worst of times. Whatever is happening in our country or our world – God is still in control.

King David experienced the whole spectrum of frightening, discouraging and sorrowful circumstances – whether made from his own sin or from the actions of others (facing Goliath, hiding from King Saul’s jealous rage, struggling with the guilt of his relationship with Bathsheba, mourning the death of an infant child…). Yet, through it all, he continually praised God! In gratitude – thankfulness for God’s faithfulness, grace, and guidance – we can praise Him and face everyday with courage!

-Sue Breland, Worship for One©

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Resisting Your Resentments

One day, after Hannah had something to eat and drink in Shiloh, she got up. Though she was resentful, she prayed to the Lord while she cried. – 1 Samuel 1:9-10

Some would say Hannah “had a right” to be resentful. She had no children – considered a curse of God in her time. Bullied and tormented in her own home, misunderstood even in the temple, she was degraded and depressed.

By holding her resentments she punished no one but herself, as it can be draining, debilitating, and destructive. Not eating, her physical self would have been declining, opening the door to growing weakness and disease. But, to her credit, even in such a state, Hannah got up. She knew that only God could change her life, and though her resentment was as present as ever, she prayed through her tears, taking her pain to where relief could be found.

Our God is big enough to hear our arguments and indictments, to shoulder our complaints and release our self-inflicted burdens. Bitterness ruins God’s recipe for a sweet and healthy life.

-Sue Breland, Worship for One©

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Growing Pains

Those who cry while they plant will joyfully sing while they harvest. The person who goes out weeping, carry his bag of seed, will come home singing, carrying his bundles of grain. – Psalm 126:5-6

Planting is hard work. Months of waiting, weeding and praying for rain can seem like a lifetime. But as sure as God brings the change of the seasons, so He has created us to be resilient to the pains of growth. The joy of the harvest is always just around the corner.

-Sue Breland, Worship for One©

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Living Fruit

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:12-13

Jesus said the greatest commandment is “Love God with all your heart…” followed by “…love others as yourself.” Notice – we are last on the list. We are not only told that we should put others before ourselves, but we were shown how to do so by Jesus Christ as He lived – and was crucified – on earth. How much pain does our pride cause us and cost others?

-Sue Breland, Worship for One©

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Inclusivity

Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as He says, the door is open. – Acts 10:34

A light in the window, an open door, an extended hand welcoming us in – nothing beats the feeling of inclusion. It is often our own feelings of inferiority or memories of mistakes that keep us from accepting our place on the inside. If we can get past the illusion of our own prison, we’ll see that God is waiting for us in the open doorway. If we will let Him lead, He will take us places we could never reach on our own. If we will take Him at His Word, He will open the floodgates of blessings reserved for all those who have joined His “inner circle.” It is big enough to include us all, so get excited – wherever you’ve come from what lies ahead will bring the privileges of membership.

-Sue Breland, Worship for One©

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Availability

…their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and [then] He disappeared from their sight. – Luke 24:31

After His resurrection from death, on the road to Emmaus, Jesus walked and talked with disciples that did not recognize Him – so blinded by their small understanding of the greatest story ever told – in which they were living. But eventually it became clear, and they realized that Jesus had completed His part in the plan of salvation. Now it is up to us to realize our place in the Father’s on-going mission to the world.

-Sue Breland, Worship for One©

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Visibility

Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus …asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body…With him, came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus by night… – Luke 24:31

Joseph and Nicodemus believed, but no one knew. They hid their secret, visited Jesus under the cover of darkness, and were limited in what they could do for Him or what He could do for them. Only with His death, did they expose their secret and with His resurrection, they became two of the most memorable men of the New Testament Bible. A secret life is not useful to God. Let the “cat out of the bag” and let God use you to do the unimaginable in His name.

-Sue Breland, Worship for One©

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Humility

Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus …asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body…With him, came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus by night… – Matthew 18:2-4

It is a great paradox in Christianity that it makes humility the avenue to glory, that “the first shall be last,” and that the greatest among us must be the servant of all. In His time, Jesus’ teachings turned the world upside down, and we still struggle today with how simple childlike faith and submission can lead us to a place in the Father’s eternal arms. Through fasting, prayer and obedience beyond our will, we shed our grown up pride and power, and learn the true meaning of His gift of grace.

-Sue Breland, Worship for One©

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Fragility

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. – 2 Corinthians 4:7a

The human body is a fragile thing. Just a fall, a few days without water, exposure to temperatures too cold or too hot; and our bodies will cease to function. It is not our physical frame, a shell of flesh and bone, wherein we find our real strength, but from the inexplicable spark within that drives us to go on when there seems to be nowhere to go. It is an ineffable quality that fortifies our emotions and steels our mental toughness beyond mere corporeal matter.

For Christians, we know that it is God living in us that generates that power which holds us together when our frail vessels should fall apart. While it is unlikely that one would put a treasure in brittle clay container, God came to live inside the vulnerable human heart to make us stronger than we could ever be without Him.

-Sue Breland, Worship for One©

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