Devotion: Rejoice Evermore

April 3, 2020

Devotion written by Rev. Susan Roddey, a UCHS Spiritual Life Director  

One of my favorite authors is Wendell Berry.  He writes in one of his novels, “The chance you had is the life you got.  You can make complaints about what people, including you, make of their own lives after they have got them, and about what people make of other people’s lives, even about your children being gone, but you mustn’t wish for another life.  You mustn’t want to be somebody else.  What you must do is this: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing.  In every way give thanks.”

We all have regrets sometimes: regrets over things we did, regrets over opportunities not taken, regrets over things we did not do.  Some of us live with major regrets that may haunt us and cast a pall over how we look back and understand our lives.  Some regrets make us deeply ashamed and we carry this shame around as a heavy burden.  Some regrets steal our confidence in ourselves and make us feel like failures.  Some regrets we may still have an opportunity to remedy, but other regrets we have to live with not being able to change. 

While realizing that we have done things in our lives that we wish we could change is important in being honest to ourselves and God, and righting what we may have wronged if we are able, to live under a constant cloud of regrets and to wish we were someone else keeps us from living life in its fullest now.  When we live with continual questions of “What if...?” we become blinded to what is. We aren’t able to see all that has been good in our lives that has also shaped us into the persons we are now. 

“Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.”  God does not want us to live entrapped in the past – God’s forgiveness gives us a reason to rejoice continually, because we are not bound to our mistakes and regrets.  They do not define the person we are now and in the future.  When we pray without ceasing we live in the present.  This doesn’t mean that we have to be saying a prayer every moment – it means we live our lives as a prayer, accepting who we are and reveling in the freedom of God’s grace to renew and restore us.  We are able to write a new story for our lives as we see life through the lens of gratitude.  I am not talking about a fake sort of being happy all the time like nothing has ever gone wrong, but instead a deep abiding thankfulness that God’s mercies are new every day and we have the choice to live into these mercies rather than to live weighed down by the past.

Prayer: O Holy Friend, sometimes we push away the gift of a new day, because we cannot let go of the pain of the past.  Help us allow your mercy to reshape our lives so that we can live with thanksgiving.  Amen.