“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”
James 1:2-7 NIV
It arrested me immediately as I read the first line of James 1. PURE JOY. Amazingly, the Scripture is admonishing us to identify pure joy as the outcome of trials. In my completely human estimation pure joy would be the result of being financially free or physically whole or in a great relationship with your life mate. I could see pure joy as the outcome of a fantastic dinner or an intimate romance. I could see pure joy as the result of complete and totally carefree life. But NOT trials, not the testing of my very belief system and my personal faith.
And yet I have experienced this very pure joy recently. It comes not in the perfection of the externals of my life, and not in the trouble free aspects of health or bodily comfort. It comes from something inside. A faith that quietly whispers to your spirit, "its going to be alright". To be honest the first time I really noticed it was in the throws of my stage 4 cancer diagnosis. (And I confess that just because the voice of the Spirit was whispering to me doesn't mean I always believed that voice!) I think that what happens is that you begin to be hopeful. Then you choose the pathway of perseverance. And the simple things begin to give you a pure and unadulterated joy.
Pure joy is the joy that comes in the moment. It is the joy that lingers when everything else has abandoned you. It is what is there when no one calls or writes. Pure joy is satisfying and simple. Pure joy is rudemental and foundational. Pure joy brings a confidence of soul, and a peace of mind. Pure joy is small and gentle. It is less belly laugh and more smirk. It is not situationally dependent, and not dependent upon the externals. Pure joy is the joy that lingers still... and still more.
Now that cancer is in my rear view mirror, I have made some adjustments to my life. Some vows to myself (and a few promises to God!) But they aren't major life altering things, just simple joys. One of those is written in my notes as "more sunrises and sunsets". I just am determined to find the joy in watching the sun open and close the days. It means something to me, these days. There aren't a lot of high pressure expectations there, just sunrise and sunset.
Maybe that's part of what happens. Our expectations of a trouble free life, a perfect relationship, a pain free existence get simply tuned to finding pure joy. If your facing a looming period of trial or temptation, I pray that pure joy will be found as you make your attitude adjustments.