"And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them..." (Luke 22:19 NIV)
With less than twelve hours to live, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, and shared it with His disciples. He gave thanks. Knowing what was ahead of Him.
Ann Voskamp points out in her book "One Thousand Gifts" that in the original language, "He gave thanks" reads "eucharisteo." She explains that the root word of "eucharisteo" is "charis", meaning "grace." When Jesus took the bread, He recognized it as a gift from God and gave thanks. She goes on to explain that the word "eucharisteo" also holds a derivative of "charis", which is "chara", a Greek word meaning "joy."
Ann asks the question, "Is the height of my chara joy dependent on the depths of my eucharisteo thanks?" She points out that joy is always possible, right here, right now...as long as we are willing to be thankful. True joy is not in some exotic location or mountain top experience. I love this statement: "The only place we need see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now."
Grace...Thanksgiving...Joy. It's that simple.
Thanksgiving isn't always easy...In fact, sometimes it's downright hard!
"He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God." (Psalm 50:23 NIV)
Sometimes thanksgiving is a sacrifice. When you've been deeply hurt, it costs something to be thankful. Yet when we recognize God for who He is, when we truly see His grace, we can be thankful in any circumstance, and that is where fullness of joy comes from.
Paul says this in Philippians 4:11-12: "I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little."
What did Paul say? Twice he says, "I have learned..." It appears that we have to learn "eucharisteo". I don't think it comes naturally...at least it doesn't to me. But as my "Joy List" grows, so does my capacity for thanksgiving. It's a process. But I'm learning...learning to live with my eyes open to the "charis" grace all around me.
And my list continues...
#61 "Blue Jeans" Fridays at work
#62 Morning dew
#63 Full moons
#64 Seeing all the kids at school wearing green on St. Patrick's Day
#65 Finding Mary Engelbreit notecards at Michael's for 50 cents (I mean packages of 8 cards for 50 cents! 50 cents!!!)
#66 Cherry vanilla Diet Coke from Sonic
#67 Getting Blizzards from Dairy Queen on Sunday nights after church
#68 Reading on my treadmill
#69 Downloading free books on my Kindle app
#70 How my dog always manages to find the TV remote on the couch and lays down on top of it
#71 Small steps forward in the grief journey
More about those small steps in the next post...