Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1Thessalonians5:18).
In a separate article, I described grumbling as the accent of hell and gratitude as the accent of heaven. But as many of us prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s take a longer look at gratitude. More specifically, how is it possible to obey and “give thanks in all circumstances,” especially if our circumstances are horrible? What fuels thanksgiving when life seems to be one discouragement, disappointment, disease, disaster, and death after another? There is only one way. And Jesus is the way (John14:6) and it shows the way.
The best place to see Jesus showing us the way is in the upper room where he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke22:19). “Grumbling will be the forever accent of hell, and gratitude the forever accent of heaven”.
The Greek word for “thanks” is EUCHARISTEO.
The root of eucharisteo is “CHARIS”, meaning “GRACE”. Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the greek word for grace Charis. But it also hold its derivative, the greek word “CHARA”, meaning “JOY”. Charis – Grace, Eucharisteo–Thanksgiving.
Now let’s think for a moment about what Jesus’s eucharisteo meant. Thank you, father, that my body, symbolized by this bread, is about to be brutally broken and I am about to be (momentarily) damned by your worth (Isaiah53:10), so that you will receive supreme glory in being able to forgive undeserving sinners (Philippians2:11).
And I will share eternally full joy (John15:11; Psalm16:11) with hundreds of millions of forgiven sinners made righteous through my sacrifice (Isaiah53:11). Jesus’ thanks was not based on his present circumstances. He was about to endure the worst possible horror. He felt thankful to the father for the grace and glory that was coming because of the cross and gave him joy.
Jesus eucharisteo was fueled by his belief in future grace. That’s what the author of Hebrews meant when he wrote that said, “The joy set before you is the same joy Jesus had set before him, because you are an heir of the kingdom with him”. Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews12:2)Jesus eyes were on his future joy. And what is your future joy? The very best possible future you could ever imagine if you believe it.
- You will have to merit your justification by keeping the law (Galantians2:16)
- Yes, You will have your real needs provided while on earth(Philippians4:19)
- Again, You will receive the grace you need at all times so that you will abound in every good work God has for you (2Corinths.9:8)
- God will complete the good work he began in you (Philippians1:6)
- And you will be raised from the dead and never ever die again (1Corinths.15:52-53)
And that’s just a small sampling! This joy Jesus had set before him, because you are an heir of the kingdom with him (Romans8:17). “If the joy Jesus promised is real and you believe him, there’s no circumstances that can steal your thanksgiving”.
In fact, the trouble that you endure has a purpose: in it you are displaying the reality of Jesus to the world in a unique way. The kingdom of God is most clearly shown on earth when Christians gratefully suffer present troubles because they see a future weight of glory coming that makes everything in this world throws at them “Light momentary afflictions” in comparison (2Corinths.4:17).
So how can you give thanks in all circumstances? There’s only one way: Jesus’ way. Look to the joy! If the future joy Jesus promised is real and you believe him, there is no circumstances that can steal your thanksgiving. May all your thanksgiving celebrations be soaked in EUCHARISTEO.