I'm trading my sorrow I'm trading my shame I'm laying them down For the joy of the Lord I'm trading my sickness I'm trading my pain I'm laying them down For the joy of the Lord - Darrel Evans, Trading My Sorrows
I’m trading and so are you.
I’m not trading sorrows. My life is full of joys. My personality is, at its core, joyful. Sorrow is not a daily worry of mine. I’m fairly even.
I’m not trading shame. My life is full of openness. I’m not saying I don’t have secret things with which I struggle. I do. We all do. But mostly those things don’t define my days. I spend most of every waking hour with people. I live an open life. I often feel foolish and immature but shame isn’t an emotion I have often. I’m fairly even.
I’m not trading sickness. My life and body are healthy as far as I know. I suppose a secret illness or disease could be growing unbeknown to me but I don’t fear that so sickness really has no control in my life as of this moment. And my life is full of good, healthy relationships that bless me. I feel emotionally healthy and supported. I’m fairly even.
I’m not in pain. My wife is painless; she’s supportive, loving, beautiful, spirited, spiritual and faithful. I never doubt her. My kids are a joy; they’re healthy, smart, gorgeous, energetic, challenging and transforming both themselves and me. My friends are stable. My church family is loving and gracious. My job is fulfilling. I’m fairly even.
Even…hmmm. Seems good.
But I don’t have anything to trade so being even is hard sometimes. It’s misleading because if I don’t have overtly bad things to trade in, then I’m fooled into thinking I’m self-sufficient. If I had sorrows or shame or sickness or pain to trade in, then I’d be dependent on the trade. My trade-in would determine the significance of my trade-back. My pain for God’s joy. But if I don’t have pain, I’m tempted to live the farce of believing I don’t need God’s joy. I have my own. If I don’t have sorrow or shame, I have not the need to trade them for God’s joy. I have my own joy. I’m even and fooled into living a life of self-fulfillment instead of allowing God to fill me.
I’m not questioning my faith or my belief in God. I’m questioning how much of God’s joy I’m allowing to fill me and rule me. If I’m living off the even nature of my own joy, then I find myself facing challenging situations with a grim determination to do what’s right and, at best, breaking even. But if I’m living off the abundance of God’s joy, then I face all of life with an attitude of lifting my eyes to the hills where my help comes from. I don’t just ‘do my duty’ with disgruntled obedience but rather I allow my uplifted face to shine with the patience and wisdom of God as I press through undesirable circumstances with joy to spare.
I long for something to trade in for abundant joy and I’m finding out it’s me. Not my pain. Not my sorrow. Not my sickness. Not my shame. I’m trading in me: selfishness, self-fulfillment, self-dependence, self-reliance, self-sufficiency.
It’s not much of a trade in my eyes. But it’s worth all eternity in God’s eyes.
Won’t you join me? Let’s trade.
But when all is said and done, God’s Temple on the mountain,
Firmly fixed, will dominate all mountains, towering above surrounding hills.
People will stream to it and many nations set out for it,
Saying, “Come, let’s climb God’s mountain.
Let’s go to the Temple of Jacob’s God.
He will teach us how to live.
We’ll know how to live God’s way.”
True teaching will issue from Zion, God’s revelation from Jerusalem.
He’ll establish justice in the rabble of nations and settle disputes in faraway places.
They’ll trade in their swords for shovels, their spears for rakes and hoes.
Nations will quit fighting each other, quit learning how to kill one another.
Each man will sit under his own shade tree, each woman in safety will tend her own garden.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so, and he means what he says.
– the Prophet Micah (from the Bible, the text of Micah 4: 1-4, The Message translation)
But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
-the Prophet Isaiah (from the Bible, the text of Isaiah 43: 1-4, The Message translation)