Often it is the people closest to suffering who have the most powerful joy. Friends of Mother Teresa say that instead of being overwhelmed by the suffering around her, she fairly glows with joy as she goes about her ministry of mercy. One of the English officers imprisoned at Flossenberg with Dietrich Bonhoeffer said of him, “Bonhoeffer always seemed to me to spread and atmosphere of happiness and joy over the least incident and profound gratitude for the mere fact that he was alive.
True joy, as it turns out, comes only to those who devoted their lives to something greater than personal happiness. This is most visible in extraordinary lives, in saints and martyrs. But it is no less true for ordinary people like us.
One test of authentic joy is its compatibility with pain. Joy in this world is always joy “in spite of” something. Joy is as Karl Barth put it, a “defiant nevertheless” set at a full stop against bitterness and resentment.
John Ortberg - American Pastor (1957 - )
From the book "The life you've always wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People"