Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee"1 (Lyrics)

When I was seven, my father worked in the Mammoth and Morning coal mine in Washington State, USA, till his frozen lungs wouldn't let him go underground anymore. We knew what "poor" was, but "jobless" was a whole other experience for our family.

My mother stitched (badly) winter coats for us out of men's suit jackets. The day when we wore them on the school bus coming home down one of the Selkirk Mountains, I watched my younger sister take hers off and throw it out the window into the Kootenai river.

"What are you doing?" I gasped.

"Now, they'll have to buy me a proper kid's coat," she said. "But I'm cold. Give me yours."

At school, our class was staging the song, Red Wing, about an Indigenous girl waiting for her lover (an odd choice for second-graders). Who would play Red Wing?

Our teacher said, "Since we have no girls with long dark braids, we'll have to make do with Corinne" (her favourite, a blonde with curly hair).

I had long dark braids, but we were poor, and my best friend, also with long dark braids, was Indigenous.

"So, Corinne has agreed to wear a wig," the teacher concluded.

Are you keeping some childhood pains, like mine, warm and well-fed by long-stored-up resentments?

How Can I Keep From Singing by Robert Lowry (1826-1899) was the very first song my husband taught me. It begins: "My life flows on in endless song; above earth's lamentation".

"Lamentation" is an all-purpose word that rolls injustice, regret, and sorrow into one big ball of bitterness.

We can choose to bounce such a ball around in our lives, growing it bigger and heavier, complaining often about the way life has done us wrong. Or, Lowry reminds us, we can let go of lamenting forever and choose to sing. The choice is ours!

The hymn sets an example for believers to follow in rejoicing, and mentions a whole lot of reasons for us to rejoice, even in dark times:

  • We are part of a new creation coming, that won't have any pain.
  • This "new creation" echoes in our souls so that we hear it twice.
  • We have a living Saviour Who is Lord of heaven and earth.
  • He gives us something to learn and sing about even when things seem bleak.
  • We are safe and protected by Him despite the way that things are going.
  • He smooths the path ahead on our journey with Him, day by day.
  • We find a fresh way of thinking and being as we follow Him.
  • Blessings keep on coming as though we had a fountain full and deep inside us.
  • Everything that we have ever needed comes from Him through faith.
  • All these things and more give us reason to sing.

Jeremiah, that career prophet of the Old Testament, catalogued grief for his times in two books, the first under his own name and the second in Lamentations, where he concludes from experience, "The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning." (Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT)

Prayer: Dear Father God, thank You for examples in Scripture of how others have come rejoicing through times like these, by faith in You and Your Word. Thank You for allowing us to see the hope and strength that You offer. Teach us to sing. Amen.

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About the author:

Rose DeShaw <>
Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen Rose!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Thank you for your beautiful writing.

    Great encouragement, Rose. God bless.

    Thank you Rose! Profound and simply true, blessings.

    Thank you for sharing I look forward to reading every morning.

    Thank you, Rose. Your trials, and your response to them, have brought healing to many.

    Rose, such a moving story and example of getting past lamentation to thankfulness. I appreciate your writing.

    Thank God for His blessings through Jesus Christ! Thanks for sharing your childhood memories. Blessings.

    Rose, I enjoyed every bit of your write up.
    Thanks for sharing.
    And I thank God for your life and family today.
    God’s blessings.

    Thank you so much for this devotional, you are always so uplifting. We are to be thankful for what we have.

    What a timely and moving post, Rose. I truly hope your indigenous classmate was able to move beyond such an unjust situation too. Thank you for sharing and may God bless you and your family!

    Dear Rose,
    As I read your devotionals and add yet another piece to the jigsaw puzzle of your life I wonder again and again how you got to be such a devoted Christian.

    Amen. Thank you for this reminder that we choose whether to wallow in sorrow or praise God, through whom all blessings flow.
    Blessings to you for this thankful Thanksgiving weekend message.

    Thanks for once again sharing a part of your life with us. I always find music and singing lifts my spirit. I have my favourite praise songs and hymns to play whenever I am out in the car. I always seem to have a song going through my head.

    Hello Rose
    Wow, amazing past memories and how God used them to bring you to where you are now. Sad when people want to hold on to baggage that only wears them down spiritually and physically and mentally.
    God bless and have a beautiful Thanksgiving

    Dear Rose:
    Your devotionals continue to surprise me. You have been through a lot in your life, but thank God, he gives us a choice – to continue in our lamentations or to realize that He is faithful. Great is Thy Faithfulness is one of my favorite hymns.
    God bless you and keep writing.

    Hello Rose,
    Thanks for your devotional today. You have sure dealt with some unpleasant life situations but your faith and trust in our loving Lord has given you a very positive attitude. Take care and many blessings for the encouraging writings you do for our devotionals.

    Dear Rose,
    Your message was so inspiring. You have grown into such a strong person after what you went through during your childhood.
    Yes, we all have sad memories, but we have to put them behind us.
    Thank you.

    Wonderful, Rose. Thank you. And of course, the Lamentations verse about the faithfulness of our Lord never ceases is a favorite musical selection that our choir sings. The faithful love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. He is true every morning, true every evening. Great is your faithfulness, Oh Lord. Great is your faithfulness.” Thank you for reminding me of these words.

    Dear Rose,
    Thank you for your inspiring devotional this morning. For me, it was so timely. I love the hymn, based on that quote from Lamentations, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, and pray its words every morning.
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Blessings, Joy, Laughter,

    Dear Rose:
    Thank you so much for making yourself available to our Heavenly Father, in writing your inspiring devotionals!
    I begin to read them and before I am near the end, I suspect that your name will be at the bottom. You are a wonderful writer and an inspiration to all readers. I know that our Lord finds pleasure in your writing service to Him.
    I look forward to meeting you in Heaven!
    Keep writing!

    Thank you Rose for your wonderful devotion this day.
    I can’t imagine anyone remembering how we lamented to have a few things that we didn’t have because we were poor.
    Being poor was a way of life that I could not ever resent and thank God that I wasn’t following down the wrong roads of temptation.
    Praise the Lord.
    God bless,

    Good morning, Rose,
    “Lamentations” be gone, and rejoicing begin.
    Your story reminded me of a book I read awhile ago “The Glass Palace”. It had been recommended by a friend. I am a reader, but I love a good mystery – not suspense or a thriller – but a true mystery.
    Your message is a very good one to let the past go and to be grateful for what is good. Your list is a great starting point for us all. I now know that I can click the link to get the song that you are referring to. I think your husband is a kind and thoughtful man – another blessing.
    May you celebrate this weekend for all the things you are thankful for in your life. Thank you for encouraging all of us to move on. Blessings.

    Thanks, again Rose for sharing your wonderful stories of encouragement!

    Good morning, Rose!
    What a beautiful and moving devotion you have written! It is an uplifting concluding addition to your PresbyCan devotion booklet. You have powerfully stated that for a full life we have to look with eyes of faith and see our lives as “a glass half full and not half empty”. We always have so much to be thankful for knowing that Jesus is our Savior.

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