Food for Thought: Trading Places

Food for Thought: Trading Places

by Ardith Hoff

In the 1983 movie “Trading Places”, a snobbish businessman, played by Dan Aykroyd, is forced by his boss, who had made a bet with his brother, to trade places with a homeless man played by Eddy Murphy.  The film touched on a variety of social issues such as stereotypes about race, homelessness, and materialism.  In the story, all of the main characters learned a lot, but in the end the two underlings teamed up to defraud the two rich guys so that they could become wealthy at the expense of the rich brothers who were known to engage in insider trading.  The movie was entertaining and satisfying to watch because it showed that the underdogs could win.  However, the “moral” of the story was lost as it could lead some to believe that cheating is the way to win.

In a national survey, people were asked to finish this sentence, "For one day, I would like to trade places with...."  Over 1,000 people contributed and here are some of their responses: My autistic child, just to see the world through his eyes; My heart donor –– I would love to know what he or she was like; Billy Graham so I can feel his faith; My husband, to see just how it is to live with me –– I know I would learn a lot of ways to improve!  Uniquely, one participant's comment revealed a different perspective.  She said, "No one –– I am happy to just be myself!” Hopefully we're all happy to be ourselves, but it is helpful to consider how others might feel.  Reader's Digest, February 2012, p.34

Who would you like to trade places with, or are you happy just as you are?  If not, how do you think you might be able to find contentment?  Many of us are trying to fill a void of some kind in our lives, and unfortunately we try to fill that void with things that can't satisfy us. We look to fill the void with possessions or money, but we only end up wanting more.  We try to fill it with relationships or other distractions, but we end up feeling even more empty and depressed than when we started.  Only the love of God, through his son Jesus, can fill that void.

The Bible calls us to allow our convictions, not our circumstances, to govern our sense of contentment.  True biblical contentment is a conviction that God’s power, purpose and provision are sufficient for every circumstance.  In Proverbs 19:23 we read: “The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”