The simplest explanation that I have heard about what it means to experience joy is this:

Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.

                                                                                            —Hellen Keller

I’m a big believer in the concept of choice.  We choose those things that better us, and unfortunately we choose those things that worsen us.  There is always a choice.  My prayer during these times of sorrow, of pain, of discomfort is that we might choose joy…  because joy does not fade in the face of adversity.  Joy is not dependent upon circumstance or favour or happenstance.  It is dependent upon the person of Christ whose death on the cross made possible the ultimate joy. 

Reconciliation and reclamation.

I pray that I might remember what Henri Nouwen said:

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.

                                                                                            —Henri Nouwen

Today, as my heart breaks for those who suffer far beyond my ability to comprehend, I pray I can choose to feel the flame of joy upon my face today.  To feel the warmth, and comfort would be a gift indeed.  For joy is not what we ascribe to happiness, it is eternal and divine.