Karen Armstrong, in her book, Buddha (2001), described an early experience of the boy on page 66:
Left alone by his nurses in the field during ploughing, "he noticed that the young grass had been torn up, and that insects and the eggs they had laid in these new shoots had been destroyed. The little boy gazed at the carnage and felt a strange sorrow, as though his own relatives had been killed. But it was a beautiful day, and a feeling of pure joy rose up in his heart."
Ah! what an archetype! Suffering brings compassion brings joy. The little boy did not know it, but his compassion brought him closer to heaven where joy is born.
Armstrong suggested that we may all "have experienced such moments". Well, maybe. Reflecting on my own life, I find a strange comparison:
As a young minister visiting the hospital (a part of my pastoral duties), I commented to the chaplain that these visits made me feel 10 feet tall. "Yes", he said, "It's easy to be a tower of strength in the hospital."
40 years later things seem a little different, a little more complex: the joy is there, but it's a little better understood; there's no finer experience in life than to help someone, even to give a cup of cold water to a thirsty person.
Thinking theologically it's the joy of knowing you're doing God's will. Like the little boy in the field this overrides powerfully any sadness you may feel at the pain you're trying to relieve.
We are members one of another. What hurts someone else, hurts me, and vice versa. "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15).
Weeping and rejoicing all have their end in joy. I don't do God's will very often; but occasionally I do, and it always brings joy. Praise be to God.