One of my all time favorite books is One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I gift it, reread it, highlight it, and recommend it to everyone who I think would like it (and maybe even some who I think may dislike it). This book caused a large shift in my life, and it’s something I constantly need to revisit, which is why that book is basically falling apart in my nightstand as we speak.
In the book, she talks about this word “eucharisteo” in the Bible. It comes from Luke when Jesus and the disciples had the first communion, “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them … ” In the original language, “he gave thanks” reads eucharisteo. What’s interesting though, is that the root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning grace, and it is also tied to the greek word chara, meaning joy. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that grace and joy are bound together with thanksgiving. And I know that most of the time during this season we think about turkey, stuffing, hot cider, and pie (and don’t get me wrong, I drool just typing these things) but since I’ve read this book, thanksgiving has felt very different for me.
Thanksgiving for me isn’t just a once a year dinner for me. It’s the way I keep hope and joy and grace alive in my life. The season of thanksgiving always feels special to because of that. I love that everyone takes a breath in of gratitude and exhales joy and contentment. That’s what giving thanks does, it shifts our hearts to fulfillment. It causes us to reflect on how good God is, the small and big and insignificant and hard and fun things we’ve been given, and turns them into praise, into big thanks to God. I think we could all use a little more contentment in our lives. And Paul gives us a helpful hint as to how to achieve it:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
When we pray a prayer prayer of petition or even discomfort, with thanksgiving, the peace of God will guard us. It’s not just that we feel happy because we happened to remember the good things in our life, but that God’s peace will actually come and guard your heart and mind when you do so. You activate something holy when you give thanks. Eucharisteo. The joy, grace, thanksgiving that sets our compass straight again.
So I would encourage you to take thanksgiving with you every day. Start a list in your phone, start with the small stuff. If you have a situation or person you’re struggling with, write five things down you are grateful for about them or what good things could come of it, even if it’s small. I’d love to hear what you’re thankful for, or how your gratitude list changes your day or week. Comment below to share!