Gratitude is the sign of noble souls ~ Aesop

Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving ~ Kahlil Gabran

Joy delights in joy ~ William Shakespeare

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Consider it pure joy...

Last night I was reading an article about a creative hero of mine, the writer/director/producer J.J. Abrams. I have always admired his work -- but now I admire him for who he is behind the work. This is the passage in the article that has created a paradigm shift in me:

"Abrams has been able to survive the rigors of marathon writing and production schedules, while also packing school lunches and tucking his children into keeping things fun in a process of constant discovery. "Most of us are just trying not to die, but J.J. flourishes because it's always fun for him.'"

Fun?? Pressure and problems and writer's block can be FUN?? As I was noodling this incredibly foreign and unnatural sounding idea, a scripture popped in my head. I remembered it from James 1:2 as going something like: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face troubles of many kinds. That's a paraphrase, and I'll share some of my favorite translations of this scripture in a moment, but first I just have to say how convicted I felt about the article and then what I remembered of a scripture that I have obviously known for a very long time -- but have somehow forgotten, and worse -- completely ignored. When I face troubles and problems (especially in my work, but also with my health and in relationships) I have never found it fun or considered them joy! I have raged, freaked out, cussed, cried, melted under the pressure and even quit at times -- but I don't think I've ever thought of it as fun. And yet here's this guy in Hollywood living the scripture that I was supposed to know so well. That's when something changed in me -- what if I could live that way too?? Oh how I want to!

And so this morning, I went to my J.B. Phillips translation of the bible and read James 1:2-5:
"When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, do not resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise they have come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let this process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character and the right sort of independence." (Of course the terms "men" and "man" here is used in the human sense, not gender specific.)

Now, just as I was beginning to wonder how in the world I can take on such a monumental task of not resenting troubles, but treating them as friends, I saw that the scripture goes on with some advice on just that:
"And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem, he has only to ask God -- who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty -- and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him."

WOW! What hope that gives me -- and what joy too. it almost makes me giggle at the thought -- I can have fun with problems. We all can! Here is the scripture in a few other translations...each one of them filling out the full picture to me of what is really being said:

The New Living Translation: "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."

The Message: "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it."

And finally, the one that popped in my head, the NIV translation: " 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."

And so, with God's help, I am going to embark on a new journey -- to stop resenting, being afraid of, getting angry at and resisting challenges, trials, troubles and problems -- and instead try to be welcoming, seeing them as a gift, a joy...and yes, even fun -- knowing that they will help to make me the best version of myself. It is a challenge, to be sure...but I'm starting to believe, it might just be a joy too:)


  1. Brilliant timing and very well-said.

  2. This scripture is unbelievable considering that the trials the early Christians were facing included ridicule, persecution, torture and death. Having joy amid struggle is crazy, which, for me at least, makes the notion all the more appealing. Now I guess I'll have to forgive JJ for the final season of Lost...

  3. Thanks, guys, glad it spoke to you like it did to me! I wrote about it in my journal first, but then I thought I should share it...and I'm glad I did:)

  4. Kara, of all the blogs you have posted here, to me this is the most insightful...and the most important. I praise God for His revelation to you of this concept, and I heartily applaud your paradigm shift. You say that the scripture popped into your head...I suggest that it bloomed in your spirit, much like the morning glory (such an appropriate flower for this blog) in the picture next to your comment. Your Mom and I were involved in a Bible study group that used to meet at my hangar several years ago, and I remember that we spent a solid month studying and trying to get a hold of the first 8 verses of James 1, beginning with this command in verse 2. I say "command" because it is not presented as a suggestion; it does not start with "You should consider it pure joy..". It is a directive given by the Holy Spirit though James (the next to oldest brother of Jesus); the significance of it being a "command" is that it is a given that we all (Believers) have the capability to act on the command, because the Holy Spirit would not have told us to do something that we do not have the capability to do! Now here's an ironic bit of info you may or may not be aware of, but that I find significant: The very first epistle written in the Bible was not Acts or Romans and it was not written by Luke or Paul; the first epistle was the Epistle of James, and was written by Jesus' first brother, who did not initially believe in his Savior Brother. The amazing significance of all this is that this scripture, which you have gotten a hold of and so eloquently written about, is therefore the very first teaching given to us by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament...That goes to show its importance to God! And a final bit of irony: The principle expressed by JJ Abrams, the writer/producer of "Lost", was the first principle expressed by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, which is about our being "Found"...and "Saved." ;-)
    Thanks again for a wonderful piece...I hope you don't mind if I link it in my blog.

  5. Thanks, Dad:) You win the award for longest comment! That's very cool to know about the history of the book of James. I'd be honored to be linked in your blog.

  6. I think JJ Abrams is Jewish...

  7. Okay now for my real comment: these are great words to read and a great example to strive for. Not joy in the face of trouble... joy because of it. Bring on the trouble (and joy)!!