Sometimes confused with happiness, but most often occurring when happiness will not.
It comes in a moment, it lasts for a lifetime. It acts as a buffer to our sorrow, fending off the evil that would take hold of our hearts. It fades and grows often alongside our sadness, but no matter its distance from our hearts, it always returns, a remnant never to be forgotten.
It is found in the mundane and the extraordinary. It comes in the moments and minutes we listed earlier. The stranger who smiles on the street. The waitress who goes the extra mile. The family who leaves an extra large tip. The child who laughs in the supermarket. The old couple at the movie theatre sharing popcorn. Two cats that snuggle together, keeping content in each others fur. An email from an old friend who knows us more intimately than we know ourselves. A rainbow, a sunset, a hard rain.
But more than just warm fuzzies, it is a deep-seeded contentment that we feel in our core. We feel the peace of joy in the same place we feel the ache of misery, and sometimes, when we’re lucky, it supersedes it. From our gut which gives forth a cry of pain also comes the laughter of joy. A giggle amidst tears. A chuckle on a blank face. A guffaw from a tired body.
Joy is not always laughter, but it is contentment. Contentment that all is not well with the world, but all is well with out soul. It is peace that though our answers are not sufficient or even present, our God is, and our God triumphs. A knowing, a sensing that even when we are lonely or caught in a rut, God is present and God is more.
That is joy. It is tiny reminders that God is supreme. That we are not. But that the world will go on anyway. Joy is the knowledge of grace, the experience of it, the awe of it.
And joy may have to be remembered, rekindled, from time to time, but joy is never gone. It is as transcendent and immanent as the Christ who gives it to us, and as redemptive of the little grievances, as his love is of the great ones.
The world is not patient, but joy is peace.
We are not always loving, but joy is our grace.