There will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time (God) brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time (God) will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian. ~ Isaiah 9:1-4
Joy isn't the same as happiness. At least, I don't think so. Maybe you think this is just semantics. I think at one point I did. But I'm not so sure anymore.
Joy is both impossible to contain and impossible to resist. You can't force it.
It isn't as benign as happiness. It is over powering. Happiness brings contentment. Joy brings exhultation!
Happiness is sitting on the front porch surrounded by loved ones and breathing a sign of gratification.
Joy is running through the meadows with arms flailing, unbound by anything but the deep well of something you can't quite name pushing you to cry out with laughter.
Happiness is having coffee with a friend you haven't seen in a while.
Joy is being in the arms of that friend. Or children dancing through the fire hydrant waters on a blistering summer day.
Happiness is the opening of a gift on Christmas morning.
Joy is the music swelling up out of your system as "Joy to the World" plays out into the night.
Happiness is knowing you've lived a well-worn but comfortable life.
Joy is knowing that the darkness doesn't have the last word. That burdens have dissolved. That oppressors have been stopped.
That life and love win against even the most difficult of odds.
Help me to dance and rejoice in you, O Holy One! Amen