So I think of her when I read "Always be joyful" in 1 Thessalonians 5:16. I can't even be happy all the time and that is a much smaller thing than being joyful all the time. So why does St. Paul include this in a list of advice for the early church at Thessalonia?
I think it is the very difference between joy and fun, joyful and happy that gives us a window on this advice. Things for the early church were not so good. The Jewish Christians were struggling to embrace folks who had been considered ritually unclean in their culture for millennia. The Romans were growing ever more anxious about the cult of Jesus followers. The Greeks mostly ranged from curious to condescending. There were no quiet woodland retreats, no employers proclaiming a desire to hire them, no one saying that they were a "privileged class".
So I imagine the "joyful" thing was pretty hard to swallow. But I have a couple of ideas why they were advised to choose "joyful" from the various feelings they could embrace.
First, I think this was a reminder that we desperately need in our current age. How we feel is largely a choice, barring a misfiring brain. Even on bad days we can embrace the blessings pouring over us. If you have trouble conceiving of this, I strongly recommend you read at least the first half of Viktor Frankel's Man's Search for Meaning. He speaks with authority as an eloquent survivor of the Holocaust.
Secondly, I believe we do have many more things to be joyful about than is sometimes easy to hear over the din of pervasive and ubiquitous advertising. "Be grateful your car is reliable and don't worry about what your neighbors or co-workers think about it" said no Madison Avenue advertising campaign EVER. The most important things, the most joyous things pour over us every day without regard to our lack of attention thereto. But we can chose to be more aware, grow more aware and choose, by God's Grace, to avoid dwelling on and with which does not nourish us.
I'm not saying it is easy: oh my goodness, no! But I am thinking it is a goal worth striving for because it seems to be a gateway to healing and peace and hope .