The Joy Exchange

We can all relate to standing in the dreaded “Returns” line at the department store, attempting to bring something back that just isn’t right. Whether it wasn’t the right fit, the right color, or the right style, you wait in line for what seems like an eternity. In fact, you are sure you have sprouted a few gray hairs while you were waiting.

Finally, your turn at the counter arrives. “I would like to exchange this, please,” you say, in as cheery a voice as you can muster. With a straight-faced glare, the clerk asks for your receipt. A degree of panic sets in as you realize that you forgot it. You try to explain that the item reallydidcome from this store, but in all of the hustle and bustle of life, you simply forgot the receipt.

With the same straight-faced glare, and without a word, the clerk points to a sign on the wall beside you. It says: “No receipt.Noexchange. Noexcuses!” The exchangedoor slammed shut, and there seems to be no way around it.

Make the Exchange

Have you ever felt like there was no way to have joy in your life? I don’t mean happiness, but true joy—not something that comes from a pleasant circumstance or a feeling, but from a deep place residing within your spirit. Maybe you have had a tough life; things happened to you that shouldn’t have. Maybe you have done things that you are just not proud of. Perhaps you have been trying to do all the “right things,” but everything seems to turn out wrong. You feel like everyone and everything is against you.

Let me tell you, with all certainty, that when you feel like there is no one out there who cares, there is One who will take your hurts and troubles in exchange for His joy…and no receipt is required!

One of my favorite praise and worship songs is “Trading My Sorrows,” by Darrell Evans.1

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

It’s a catchy tune, and I have sung the words probably a hundred times. I hadn’t really thought much about what I was singing until the day the Lord showed me what the words truly meant. I remember thinking, “So I just have to lay down those things that are troubling me; just give them to the Lord in exchange for His joy?”

God spoke to my spirit and said, “Yes, it’s that simple!”

You see, He has already put within us exactly what we need. Joy is in us! We just need to give up whatever gets in the way of letting the joy flow freely in our lives. Once we lay down the burdens, we can begin to walk in the joyof the Lord.

Having joy in hard times seems counterintuitive. How can we be joyful when we’re troubled? Again, it goes back to the simplicity of following the Lord, of giving Him our troubles, and allowing Him to be Lord of our lives. First Peter 5:7 says: “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you”(KJV). He desires for us to give Him those things that are troubling. In essence, He wants to lighten our load.

God, and all things that come from Him, are described as being light. Conversely, the enemy, and all things that come from him, are described as being dark. Psalms 30:5 tells us that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”(NKJV). Friends, when we find ourselves in the darkest places of sorrow and weeping, we have a promise of getting through it. Our joy is in His light, and His light pierces the darkness. What happens when even the smallest flicker of light is introduced into a dark room? That’s right; the darkness must scatter! You see, darkness stands no chance against The Light!

The Bible gives us so many examples of joy and explains how we can achieve it, how it will work in our lives, and where to find it. Let’s take a look at just a few verses:

“But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You” (Psalms 5:11 NKJV). God will exchange your fear for joy, when you trust in Him.

“My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to You because You have redeemed me” (Psalms 71:23 HCSB). Joy is found in our praises to the Lord.

“This is the day the Lordhas made; we will rejoice and be glad in it”(Psalms 118:24 NKJV). Knowing that we are living for Him, we can walk in joy for He has given us this day.

“Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lordis your strength”(Nehemiah 8:10b NASB). Even when we are going through difficult situations, we can find the strength we need that comes from His joy.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”(Romans 15:13 NIV). God can make us joyful and hope-filled!

When you exchange a garment that’s too big or is not the right color for that “just right” item…it’s a great feeling. When we exchange our sorrows for the true joy found in Him, nothing will compare and we’ll know it’s just the right fit! The exchange is complete…no hassle and no receipts required!

God really does desire for you to live a joyful life that is filled with so much more than circumstantial happiness. Take the time to look around you. What has God given you that brings joy to your life? If you are having a hard time seeing where the joy is, I encourage you to start a “joy journal.” Begin by thinking about one or two things that bring you joy, and why. Write them down. Try to do this every day. Before you know it, the journal will be filled and the world around you will start looking brighter!

Notes:

1 Darrell Evans, “Trading My Sorrows,” from the album Freedom, Vertical Music, 1998.

 

 

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