This week I learnt a new word; eucharisteo.
“And he (Jesus) took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them…” (Luke 22:19)
‘I thumb, run my finger across the pages of the heavy and thick books bound. I read it slowly. In the original language, “he gave thanks” reads “eucharisteo”.
I underline it on the page. Can it lay a sure foundation under a life? Offer the fullest life?
The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace”. Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and he knew it to be gift and gave thanks.
But there is more, and I read it. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy”.’ (Ann Voskamp)
And so I have been thinking a lot about thanksgiving – about eucharisteo. The idea of ‘giving thanks’ or ‘being thankful’ is pretty common to all of us, especially those of us who are Christ-followers. We often say “I’m so thankful for…”, or “I’m so thankful that…”. And it is true. It is Biblical. It is God-honoring. We are thankful.
As I was pondering these ideas earlier today I was reflecting on all the things in my life that I am thankful for, and I came to this conclusion: if I had something which was then suddenly lost, and I missed it; I am generally thankful for it.
If I lost my car would I miss it? Yes. I am thankful for it.
If I lost my family would I miss them? Yes. I am thankful for them.
If I lost my house would I miss it? Yes. I am thankful for it.
If I lost my friendships would I miss them? Yes. I am thankful for them.
If I lost my computer would I miss it? Yes. I am thankful for it.
If I lost my husband would I miss him? Yes. I am thankful for him.
You get the idea.
But then I read verses like these:
‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ (Philippians 4:4-6)
‘Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Ok, so that blows my theory right out the window.
If I lost all of this pain, suffering, confusion, anger, loneliness and grief would I miss it? NO! And I am supposed to be thankful for it.
How? How on earth do we be thankful amidst suffering? How on earth do we give thanks in all circumstances?
Yes I am thankful for my car, my computer, my house, my friends….but am I thankful for the loss of my beautiful husband? No, not one bit.
Not yet anyway.
I guess this is where trust and faith come in. We are called to trust God’s big picture – his big plan for our lives. His promises. Who knows, maybe one day (I am assuming a long time into the future) I will be able to look back on these dark days with thanksgiving for the ways in which God has worked in my life and brought me closer to Him.
Maybe one day I will even be able to ‘consider these trials pure joy’ (James 1:1).
I’m praying that he will help me know too.