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2020-05-11 Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child

This week my focus on the Hymn of the Day will be African American “spirituals” - an immensely important genre of music born from the “plantation” and “sorrow” songs of the African American slaves in the Deep South in the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s. These songs are songs of hope and longing, expressing a desire for peace and freedom both in the present and in the afterlife. Through these melodies, slaves held on to the hope of survival. The songs were created vocally by groups of slaves working in the fields and gathering at camp meetings, the more popular melodies then being passed from one plantation to the next. Over time, slaves also developed songs that carried coded messages containing plans for escape - especially during the time when the Underground Railroad seemed like the only hope for freedom.

I love the spirituals because they speak the truth even when that truth is not popular or pious. The singer here is not afraid to state that sometimes she feels like an orphan in a strange land. Certainly, this is not the only theme we find in the spirituals. There are times to celebrate the “Great Day.” There are times to strengthen our resolve to follow Jesus, “no turning back.” And yes, there are even times to contemplate our Lord and His sacrifice by solemnly singing “were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

But these moments do not hide us from the reality that often we find ourselves feeling so alone. This spiritual’s objective is simply to “put it out there.” The singer is not setting us up to bring in an easy answer. No, the singer just states this terrible and awful truth that is hard to hear, but is liberative simply in the articulation.

We as Christians sometimes think that we must always have that smile on our face. Many times we are so busy “faking it till we make it” that we look past the real moments of pain. The spirituals do have joyful times, but they don’t get there by sidestepping the pain. They get to the joy THROUGH the pain. A pain that wrenched them from home. A pain that took father and mother from them.

Today, I encourage you to go ahead and articulate the pain that you feel so that God can heal and bless you, even if you never see home again.

Heavenly Father, we come before you as frail humans who have little control over what happens to us. We are as it were tossed from side to side by circumstances. Lord, we are hurting, and instead of continuing to hide it, today we are simply stating our pain. Lord, hear our pain. Hear it. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Devotional by Sherman Cox

https://www.wattpad.com/88074476-deep-river-a-negro-spiritual-devotional-day-6-a

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
    Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
    Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.

 

11Do not stay so far from me,
    for trouble is near,
    and no one else can help me.

Psalm 22: 1-2, 11 (NLT)

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child - 
A long way from home, a long way from home.

Sometimes I feel like I'm almost done.
Sometimes I feel like I'm almost done.
Sometimes I feel like I'm almost done - 
And a long, long way from home, a long way from home.

 
*Devotion and music provided by Jane Cockrell

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