Over time, I began understanding that joy wasn't something that was just fleeting. It didn't come and go quickly and unpredictably. Instead, I started noticing that joy came and went in a very predictable pattern. That pattern, I learned, was directly attached to something inside of me.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:9-11 NIV)
The angels brought good news of great joy. The news was that the Messiah was born. I know a lot of people who do not get joy from this statement. I know a lot of people who don't even understand the statement, much less get joy from it. For the shepherds who were watching their flocks that night, however, this good news brought great joy. That's because they were waiting for the Messiah. They were expecting the Messiah. They knew the implications of the Messiah being born in their lifetime. Their joy tells us what was important to them: seeing God's plan fulfilled in their lifetime.
The same is true for us today. Joy is not something that is fleeting and unpredictable. It is very predictable. Not only that, it is telling. It tells us what is important to us. When we feel joy because we got a raise at work, that means getting a raise is important to us. When we feel joy at buying a new car, that means a new car is important to us. When we feel joy sitting down to a meal with friends, that tells us either the meal, the friends, or both are important to us. Joy tells us what is important to us. When the kingdom of God is important to us, we feel so much joy that we are willing to give up everything we have to be a part of it.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44 NIV)
So, how about you? What is important to you? When you get it, does it bring you joy? What does your joy tell about you?