What I’m about to share with you is in no way for the purpose of placing some halo over my head. It’s a memory that just now came to me, something I haven’t thought of in years. 

I was in the sixth grade. I had a classmate who came from the proverbial wrong side of the tracks. Her family was poor, she dressed in hand-me-downs, and I suspect she didn’t always come to school having had a bath or her hair washed. She was taller than any other girl in our grade, slender to the point of skinny. Thinking back on it now, she was actually very pretty; one of those girls who’d grow up awkward only to become a runway model some day.

If life got better.

But for this girl, who I’ll call Shirley, the difficulties at home were mirrored in the problems at school. She had no friends that I can remember. If we partnered for special projects, no one wanted to double up with her. She was the last to be picked for teams at PE. 

And Christmas was coming. We all brought something for a gift swap the last day before our holiday began. Shirley brought an impossible to disguise, wrapped round rubber ball. One by one we went to the front of the room and one by one that gift was overlooked. Shirley was the last to pick a gift, and she got her own.

As she made her way back to her desk, I watched tears form in her eyes and spill down her cheeks. I looked at my gift, a parfum gift set for girls, and I knew that if I attempted to wear the scent it would turn to stink. At recess I approached Shirley with my gift and said, “Wanna trade?”

“You don’t want this stupid ball,” she said, her eyes cast to her shoes.

She was right there, but I said, “Yes, I do. I’ve wanted one for a long time.”           

I’m Trading My Sorrows

The prophet Isaiah wrote these words:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
       because the LORD has anointed me
       to preach good news to the poor.
       He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
       to proclaim freedom for the captives
       and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
       and the day of vengeance of our God,
       to comfort all who mourn,

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
       to bestow on them a crown of beauty
       instead of ashes,
       the oil of gladness
       instead of mourning,
       and a garment of praise
       instead of a spirit of despair.
       They will be called oaks of righteousness,
       a planting of the LORD
       for the display of his splendor.
(Isaiah 61)

Jesus began his ministry and as his fame grew along the countryside. He went back to Nazareth, his hometown, entered the synagogue, opened the scroll handed him, and read the beginning of that very scripture. Then he said, “Today the scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Isaiah’s words were a messianic prophecy of the One who was to come.

Jesus made a declaration early in his ministry: he was in the trading business. We can come to him with our hand-me-down lives and receive a fragrant gift.

But guess what. We have to be willing to first let go.

In ministry, I have found that we often prefer to hold on to the things that bring us no happiness and that shed no joy into our lives. We have dressed in our rags and cried our tears, and lived our lives as the last man chosen for so long we’ve come to a place of embracing the angst. We see Jesus standing before us, extending the fragrant gift of gladness, beauty, comfort, and praise yet we choose to hold on to the red rubber ball. We’ve owned it for so long, why let it go now?

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:29-30)

Well, I’ve learned something along this journey. Before I can take what Jesus is offering me, I have to let go of what I’m holding. Whether or not I do, that choice is mine. And that choice is yours. Personally, I choose to let go. I choose to trade with Jesus.

What Are We Singing?

Darrell Evans has written a song now heard in churches across the world in which, when we sing it, we declare, “I am trading my sorrows... I’m laying them down.”

The lyrics go on to say, “We say ‘Yes, Lord.’”

When I sing this praise song, I always find those last words to be the most interesting. Are we saying “YES!” as in “hot dog!” or are we saying, “I give up… it’s yours… I trust you with this, Lord”?

When Jesus healed the blind men of Matthew 9:27, he asked them to make a bold statement of faith. “Do you believe I am able to do this?” he asked before he touched them.

In other words, did they believe, really believe he could trade their blindness for sight? Darkness for light?

“Yes, Lord,” they said. And they were healed.

When Lazarus had died and Martha ran to Jesus, she said, “If you’d been here my brother would not have died.”

Jesus told her that her brother “will rise again.” In other words, life for death. Then he said, “Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” Martha replied. And Lazarus was brought out of the grave.

As you sing the words that declare your trade agreement with the Lord, do you believe that He can and will do exactly as he has said? That he will give you blessings for curses, joy for sadness, life for death, and everything in between?

If you do, sing it loud and clear, “Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord!”

Eva Marie Everson is the author of a number of works such as Oasis, her recently released title from Baker/Revel. A seminary graduate, she speaks on a number of topics and can be reached by going to:  www.EvaMarieEverson.com