In this two-part episode, Jonathan has been assigned to assume the role of physical therapist. His patient is a gifted high school athlete, Deke, Jr., who has just endured a crippling motorcycle accident. Deke believes his world has come to an end because he can no longer walk – until he meets a man who has the use of neither his legs nor his arms. Scotty, a quadriplegic law student, is reading a book. He turns the pages by using a pencil held between his teeth.
“What are you doing?” Deke, Jr. asks him.
“I’m trying to get the hang of flipping these pages one at a time,” Scotty replies.
“It looks hard.”
Scotty smiles. “It is hard. But it is worth it. When I read, there is nobody that has the use of all their limbs that gets any more pleasure out of it than I do. When you eat, when you drink, when you see something pretty, really see it, don’t waste any of it. Live in the minute.”
Hebrews 12:2 – Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross . . .
Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
There is perhaps no emotion known to man, which is less understood or more essential to his well being than joy. Though usually defined as merely ‘great happiness’ or even ‘intense ecstasy,’ joy is so much more transcendent than that. “Joy,” Christian author and apologist, C.S. Lewis writes in his “Letters to Malcolm,” “is the serious business of Heaven.”
“Joy, rather than happiness, is the goal of life,” adds American psychologist Rollo May, “for joy is the emotion which accompanies our fulfilling our natures as human beings. It is based on the experience of one’s identity as a being of worth and dignity.”
Certainly happiness may burst forth as an outward manifestation of joy. King David was so overcome with joy at the return of the Ark of the Covenant that he danced and leaped about with all his might (2 Samuel 6:12-19). Yet more often than not, joy finds itself attached to suffering. It is a state of being that can co-exist with pain, anguish, disappointment and even despair. It is a close cousin to contentment, but even when contentment flees, joy remains. It is a present helper and promise for the future.
“The most profound joy has more of gravity than of gaiety in it,” declares French essayist, Michel Eyquem De Montaigne. And British novelist, Henry Fielding concurs. “Great joy,” he says, “especially after a sudden change of circumstances, is apt to be silent, and dwells rather in the heart than on the tongue.”
In virtually every case where great joy is spoken of in the Bible, some great sorrow or tragedy has been endured. “Weeping may endure for a night,” writes the Psalmist, “but joy comes in the morning.” After King David’s disastrous affair with Bath-Sheba, he cried out, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation… (Psalm 51:12). Jesus was willing to endure the shame of the cross “for the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2).
The Beatitudes are filled with examples of suffering endured transformed by grace into joy – “Then looking up at His disciples, He said: Blessed are you who are poor, because the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are hungry now, because you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, because you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you, insult you, and slander your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! Take note – your reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:20-26). “Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves,” promises the Psalmist (Psalms 126:4-6).
“Joy,” says Holocaust survivor, Corrie Ten Boom, “runs deeper than despair.”
Frequently the inward manifestation of joy is much more significant than the more visible, outward demonstrations of shouting, dancing, hand clapping and back slapping. A joyful heart reflects a heart filled with love, which does not look at outward circumstances, but rather endures all things, believes the best in every situation, bears every burden, and keeps hope alive. “Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls,” says Mother Teresa.
In “One Fresh Batch of Lemonade,” Scotty could have railed against heaven about the unfairness of his condition. Instead he chose to allow his infirmity to produce joy – a joy he could pass on to others. Scotty had learned that his value lay not in what he could or couldn’t do, but in what he was.
Written by freelance writer Mike Parker (BookPage, CCM, HomeLife, Lifeway.com, ChristianActivities.com), based on the theme of joy from the “One Fresh Batch of Lemonade” episode