Christian joy is not simply a superficial feeling of heightened delight or the emotion accompanying extreme pleasure. It does not necessarily depend upon one’s immediate circumstances or fortune as taught by Saint Francis’s example. It does not ignore or deny the troubling reality of indifference, hopelessness, or disappointment. Christian joy lies beyond the realm of feelings and emotions. It is a fundamental disposition and stance toward life. Descriptive metaphors for it abound: It is the knowledge that having prayed and surrendered, God hears the hopes and desires of my heart and will respond in a timely, appropriate way. God is my shepherd and I must trust God’s heart. Joy feeds on the fact that God stands watch over every situation in my life and guides me with rod and staff. My joy sometimes bubbles up, sometimes surges up, from the rock-bottom certainty that the finger of God is somehow present in every tragic or trivial event. Joy is the oasis residing in the confident conviction that the waters of God’s loving care and concern never run dry—not even in the desert. The gratuity of grace is always unending and never expiring.
—from the book Soul Training with the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis
by Albert Haase, OFM