[My apologies, The Sunday Stiletto Readers! It has been a crazy busy week so I am very much delayed in posting this blog. I hope you enjoy and look forward to the next posting in a few days! Blessings!]
Sunday’s Scripture ~ II Corinthians 4:5-12
Some of my fondest memories growing up are from the time I spent in United Methodist Youth Fellowship. While I was in high school I had the privilege of serving in the Youth Praise Band – I strummed the bass, sang, and dabbled a little in guitar. One of the first songs I learned to play was Trading My Sorrows by Darrell Evans.
The bridge of Trading My Sorrows sings and elaborates upon a very important part of this week’s Scripture passage from II Corinthians 4 – “I’m pressed, but not crushed; persecuted, not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. I’m blessed beyond the curse for His promise will endure and his joy is gonna be my strength. Though the sorrow may last for the night His joy comes in the morning!” The tempo and drum beat would drive through the first two sentences, drop out around “though the sorrow may last for the night,” and then build again to ring in God’s joy that arrives at dawn. This section was always my favorite. I couldn’t help but smile when I sang it. I couldn’t help but revel in the assurance of God’s promise.
The rest of Evans’ song is profound as well. The verse sings, “I’m trading my sorrows. I’m trading my pain. I’m laying them down for the joy of The Lord. I’m trading my sickness. I’m trading my shame. I’m laying them down for the joy of The Lord.” The chorus affirms “Yes Lord!” I will do these things – I will lay them down and claim your joy.
In studying this week’s passage and reflecting on this song, I am aware that this passage speaks about and song sings about sufferings. Sorrows, pain, sickness, and shame are sufferings and cause sufferings in this life. Both admit that life is not a bed of roses. Both recognize that there are thorns (if you will allow the metaphor) and, at times, those thorns cut deep. Suffering is part of the human condition. For people of faith, suffering is also part of our faith experience. Having faith does not make us immune from suffering. If anything having faith probably leads us to more questions about suffering – leads us to ask why.
Asking why is not a fissure in our faith. Asking why does not challenge or weaken our faith. I think asking why is a sign of faith – a sign of faith seeking understanding within our relationship with God.
As Christians we can ask why sufferings occur. The answer is because there is evil in the world. God did not create the evil. God is not the cause of the evil. I believe much of the evil that causes the suffering we experience is the result of individuals or systems of individuals abusing God’s good gift of free will. So what do we do about our suffering? Or more to the root, what do we do about the evil? We respond to it with compassion and charity. We transform it with justice and accountability. We imbue it with empathy, love, and hope.
My biggest challenge is to lay down sufferings. When I am asked about my day, more often than not, I quickly jump to my sorrows. I carry sorrows for such a long time. Doing so deprives me of joy and shields me from the beauty of God’s mercies that rise each morning with the sun.
I need to lay down my sufferings. I need to claim God’s joy.
Prayer: “Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide; strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine with ten thousand beside. Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed thy hand hath provided; great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”* Amen.
*”Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 140.