For over 20 years now, I have sung a song familiar to most of us. But last night while singing it in Spanish, I gained fresh insight to its words.
During the first years of language learning, I relished the moments when our worship leader sang a song that I originally knew in English. Finally, I could truly worship because I actually understood WHAT I was singing. Even now, I understand phrases here and there when singing a Spanish worship song I didn’t previously know, but the overall power of the song is often lost in translation.
Last night we sang the oldie “Trading My Sorrows” in a Spanish translation. Through the verses and chorus, we worshiped and declared we would trade the troubles of this world– shame, sorrows, pain, and sickness– for the joy of the Lord.
Then we came to the bridge of the song, and I was struck by the power of the translation. Oftentimes, a song is not translated word for word because culturally the meanings aren’t the same. That rule applied to one simple phrase of the song. In that moment, what I had normally sang in English gained new power when I sang it in Spanish.
After singing how weeping lasts through the night and joy comes in the morning, the song followed with this line: “Despierta! Hay gozo aquí!” Doesn’t mean much if you don’t speak Spanish, but when translated into English, WHOA! As the words rang in my ears, it was as if God’s stood beside me and translated it: “Wake up! There’s joy here!”
Let’s back up a moment. Earlier that day, a phone call occurred that threw my mind into a tailspin. I had gone to church that evening filled with anxious thoughts and worries about a decision that I needed to make. I was in turmoil over the logistics of the future that loomed out in front of me. More importantly, everything was out of my control. Questions swirled in my mind. How, God, is this gonna work?! When will I know the plan? When are You going to show me the answer? What should I do? Who can I call to help me fix the situation? Why, God, are you making me live in this uncertainty!?
But through that one phrase in the song, God reminded me to look for the joy in the moment– the uncertainty– I was facing. So I started looking for it. Here’s what I discovered:
- God has a plan even when I can’t see it. There’s joy here as I sit back in peace and watch Him work the plan with perfect timing.
- In the recent past God has worked in my life and blessed me in unimaginable ways. There’s joy here as I REST knowing he WILL do it again.
- I don’t have to figure I out all on my own. There’s joy here knowing that the doors that need to open will be opened by him not me. There’s joy here because God gives wisdom FREELY when I ask (James 1).
- God is in control. There’s joy here because even when I can’t control things, the One who created the world is in charge and he WILL “work out the plans for my life” (Psalms 138:8).
There’s joy in every uncertainty, trouble, sickness, and shame that I face. I just have to wake-up and look for it.
My friend, what trouble looms over you today? What uncertainty are you facing? What shame veils your purpose in Christ? Is there an illness that’s threatening to steal our days?
Wake-up! There’s joy where you are today! There’s no need to endure the night because choosing to focus on the joy of our affliction forces the night to surrender to the power of morning!
Plaster your walls, bathroom mirrors, and refrigerator with God’s promises that relate to your specific situation. Drown your brain in worship music that keeps you in tune with His heart. Write down every way that your situation is a chance to grow in your relationship with God – then re-read it again and again. Cry out for help each moment you feel the night sneaking back in.
And feel your heart lighten, your mind rest, and the muscles in your neck relax. The sun’s coming up over the horizon, and we truly are learning to trade our sorrows for His joy. Now that’s waking-up!