“I bring you tidings of great Joy”, the angel told the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth. Tidings of Joy not Happiness. Happiness is fleeting. Joy is not. No one can make you happy. Nor can things. People make us happy until they disappoint us. Things may make us happy until the next generation comes along. Or unto “buyer’s remorse”‘sets in. Abraham Lincoln once observed that a person is about as happy as they make up their mind to be. Happiness is dependent upon feelings.
Joy is not dependent upon feelings. Like the other gifts of the Spirit–Hope, Peace and Love–Joy is a gift that surpasses understanding. Joy can creep into our lives in the midst of sadness or grief. Joy gives us the strange sense that “everything is going to be alright,” even when circumstances tell us that things will never be alright. Joy trumps fear.
Joy is serindipitious. It comes unexpectedly, seemingly out of nowhere. The shepherds were simply going about their business, minding their sheep when the angel appeared to them followed by the heavenly hosts. Joy, the angel said, is found in the birth of a child, the Child.
May that Child touch your life. May you know Joy.