But the fruit of the Spirit is...joy (Galatians 5:22 NIV)
I must admit that this is a teaching that eluded me for a long time. Don't get me wrong, I experienced joy quite a bit in my life. I had parents who experienced and modeled joy even in the most difficult of circumstances. I just didn't understand joy.
Joy (χαρά) is defined as "cheerfulness, that is, calm delight: - gladness" (Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries). It's something I've seen in many people. It's something I've experienced myself. It's something that has come and gone over time.
My confusion wasn't over the definition of joy. It was over the experience of joy in people's lives. I wouldn't understand, for example, when my parents seemed to experience joy even when they weren't sure how they were going to pay for something. I wouldn't understand how a friend in school would experience joy, even though she was confined to a wheelchair for life. I wouldn't understand how a single mom raising three children would experience joy in the middle of her second minimum wage job of the day. My experience with joy was much more tied to my circumstances, like Jesus discussed in the parable of the sower and the seed.
The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. (Matthew 13:20-21 NIV)
I would feel joy when things went well. I would understand joy when circumstances seemed to merit it. I would experience joy for relatively short periods of time before it would fade away. Joy, for me, was fleeting. It was short-lived. It was circumstantial. Joy came but it didn't stay.
How about you? Do you experience joy? Do you experience joy all the time or is it short lived? Is joy fleeting for you?