Consider It Pure Joy

The timing of chemotherapy is designed so that just as you start to somewhat regain your strength, just as the white blood cells have rebuilt and are able to fight off infections, and just as the carnage of massive doses of chemicals in your bloodstream have finally been repaired, you are scheduled to start all over again. Our thirteen year old daughter, Kaylee, begins her third round of chemotherapy today for the treatment of an advanced stage of ovarian cancer. This weekend she felt relatively well and was able to be involved in some normal child activities, acting in a play and laughing with her friends. However, there were several very emotional times as she thought about the difficult week ahead.

Two weeks ago I wrote about how cancer stinks and then worked into some thoughts about James 1:2 and how frustrated I was with those who use this verse to say we need to be joyful for our trials.

James 1:2-3
“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.”

The message, “My Heroes”, is posted here:

My Heroes

In that message, I did something I have never done before in the sixteen years of sending out these messages. After exposing my heart about this passage as it relates to our current situation I wrote the simple phrase, “Let me know what you think.” And many, many of you did! I hope you will forgive me for not responding to all of the replies, but please know that I read each and every one…and they had an effect. The process helped me understand the power of interpreting scripture within a community. This principle of community interpretation is based on 1 Corinthians 12 and is a fascinating topic – but it needs to be a topic for another time. For now I want to say thank you and let you know how you helped.

The main help with this passage came from an individual who took the time to really look at the structure of verse. We often read a passage and develop an interpretation without considering how the words are being used. James does not tell us to be joyful, or even thankful, for trials. Trials are the inevitable troubles Jesus spoke about: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Rather, James is writing to help us walk through the trials as they come. And his main advice? “Consider it joy!”

Consider is a verb used to indicate thinking, not feeling. James is not saying we ought to feel joyful; he is saying we ought to engage in the thought process of pure joy. But the question then becomes, what are we to think about as pure joy? The answer from the passage is the ambiguous word, “it.” I do not believe that “it” refers to the specific trial. The word does not refer to earthquakes, tsunamis, divorce, hunger, or cancer; there is no joy in these events. Rather, “it” represents the bigger picture of life as we walk through the terrible event. In the midst of tragic events, which contain no hint of joy, we are to think of things, maybe little nuggets, of pure joy. And as we look for the joy, we will find the actual trial less difficult to bear; and yes, in the process we will develop perseverance and maturity.

So in the middle of this cancer, which really, really stinks, I am thinking of a few things which ought to be considered as pure joy.

First, I think about our ability to have quality medical care. This is quite overwhelming. I have some friends in Kenya who tell me there is only one hospital in all of Kenya that is able to treat cancer. Most people with cancer do not even get properly diagnosed; they simply get sick and die. I know that a surprisingly large number of you want me to take my daughter out of the hospital and go to a healer in Nigeria, but I am extremely joyful that God has allowed us to be exactly where we are.

Second, I think about the gift of administration which God gave my wife. She is amazing! My wife is able to work out every single detail with doctor visits, insurance, schedules, and travel, which enables me to focus my time and energy in other areas.

Third, I think about the changes we are making in our diet and priorities. What we are learning about food through this process will last the rest of our lives. No, I’m not prepared to stop chemotherapy, as some have recommended, and only eat avocados and garlic, but I firmly believe that our diet will play a vital role in Kaylee’s long term recovery.

Last, in this incomplete list, I think about the many, many, many hours I have been able to spend with my daughter. I have certainly not enjoyed watching her suffer, but we have shared so many times of closeness – like the way her head is on my shoulder right now – which would never have occurred under more normal circumstances.

This week we are actively looking for things to consider as joy. Sometimes this is hard. As another cancer patient shared, “One day, when things were extra difficult, I found joy in the color green.” It seems there will always be things to consider as joy if you look hard enough. So thank you for all your encouragement, prayers, and help with interpreting a difficult passage. I still hate the cancer and what it continues to do to those I love; but you have definitely helped me, as I walk through this trial, to consider it pure joy.

Have a Christ Centered Day!

Steve Troxel
God’s Daily Word Ministries

**** Reading Plan ****

Apr 8 Deuternomy 32:30-52; Luke 12:35-59; Psalm 78:46-58; Proverbs 12:24

402.64 miles in 2013 : Goal 1509 miles

3 responses to “Consider It Pure Joy”

  1. Isabel

    Thank you for sharing your personal family struggles with all of us.
    Just know we are praying for you, your daughter and the entire family as well as the doctors and staff.
    it takes courage and strength to continue to share what is going on with your daughter to the world, but know that you are changing lives. You are saving souls, by sharing your daughters struggles. Everyone is put on this earth, for a reason, i truly believe that.
    some are chosen to go thru trials that are sometimes so overwhelming it makes you wonder Lord are you sure i can handle more. And others dont get tested at all. I speak from personal experience, i lost my 4yr old daughter, and that was the biggest trial I had ever went thru, and now a divorce. But I know the Lord has a plan for everything. Your stories have inspired me to look past my pain, and remember that there are others in this world serving the lord whose struggles are deeper. Your family, Your daughter have inspired me to keep going thru the midst of my pain and sorrow, and remember that we are here but for a short time, and out of her struggle, her pain, your pain, your families pain, she will be saving lives, saving souls. She is changing peoples lives and that to me is an honor that not many are given. So on those days , when you question why, as i have, when you become angry, as i have been, and cry out to the lord, have peace in knowing she was here for the amount of time she is meant to be here for, and in that time, she saved lives, she changed peoples inner thoughts, hearts, and most of all, she saved our souls…. thank you and god bless you all.

  2. Soroya

    Thank you Steve for sharing the intimate details of this trial.
    Know that the Lord your God is at the very centre of it all.
    He is taking you, your wife, your kids most of all,Kaylee through it.
    I just want you to know that at this very moment, I have lifted you all up in prayer.

  3. Eddie J.

    Stay focused my brother, and remember that in life there are always going to be storms.
    We are either going into or coming out of one.But remember what Jesus said when he was in the boat with the men and they were worried, he said to the storm “Quiet be still”and the storm died down. We need not lose faith when these life storms come about.Even in this your relationship with your daughter has grown closer thank God. God will pull you through this storm in great fashion because of your love, your trust, and your great faith during these tough times.

Leave a Reply