I love that word. It comes from the gospel of Luke when it talks about Jesus breaking bread and giving thanks. The original word for “giving thanks” was eucharisteo. I read an entire book on this called ‘One Thousand Gifts’ by Ann Voskamp. I would say it is one of my favorite books but it got a little weird for me there at the end. But up until Ann went off the deep end, the book was literally life changing. Basically she surmises, and I agree, that eucharisteo is the secret to life. A life we were meant to live. Let me explain…
I wish I had a cool hidden talent or a party trick that I could tell you about but I do have a gift. I see beauty everywhere. I guess that’s better than the little boy in the Sixth Sense… I can honestly say, I have never had an ugly friend. My husband vehemently disagrees. I can’t possibly see you as my friend and not see your beauty. I don’t see beauty as the world defines it. But I see a giver, or an encourager, a listener, a welcoming heart, an accepting spirit. These things make you beautiful. You see, we are all drawn to beauty. Every single one of us. It may be art, nature, a beautiful home, a woman. We strive to make ourselves beautiful. We worry that our beauty is fading and we always feel that it is right out of our reach. But what if our search for beauty is actually a gift. A taste of what God has to offer when our time on earth is finished. Eucharisteo changes everything. The word is used 39 times in the new testament. Our command, not polite suggestion, is to give thanks.
Eucharisteo is like a filter. A gift from God as we pass through this world. So many times we look at the negative, and there is plenty to choose from. But His gifts are everywhere, like treasure just waiting to be seen. This world is not the way God intended. But that is not to say there isn’t wonderful, beautiful, perfection all around us. In the book, Ann writes 1000 gifts, things she is thankful for in a journal. Sounds daunting. I mean, this is exactly what happens at Thanksgiving when you go around the table and say what you’re thankful for. Ummmm family, food, shelter, lycra in my pants so they stretch, and I can eat all this food….But I quickly learned there is so much more, right in front of you.
A funny thing happens when you decide to look for things to be thankful for. The more you look, the more you find, and the easier you see why this command is one that changes your life. We rush through life and forget to look at…well, life. It’s being thankful for the smell of a baby. It’s my son’s belly laugh that comes from his toes, his whole body shows joy. The colors changing in the fall. The way that the most beautiful colors in nature can’t be replicated. The vibrant reds with hints of gold in the trees. The blues and greens and purples in the coral reefs. God’s artwork is everywhere and we walk right by it. The sunlight on hardwood floors in the early morning. The precious curls that perfectly frame his face, the face that is almost identical to his daddy. A first kiss, a long embrace, the way he looks at me. The first pretzel from a fresh bag. I don’t know why but there is something about that first one. Don’t judge, this is my blog.
The point is that being thankful is a continuous mission. God gives us so many gifts and we don’t even stop to notice. The best part is that as you begin to see them, look for them, the world becomes different. The filter is in place. Even during wars, famines, divorce, lost love ones, violence, depression, and all the anguish that comes with this fallen world, His gifts are abundant.
I think the story that made me really understand this concept is when Jesus is traveling and comes across 10 men with leprosy. Of course He healed them, cause He’s Jesus and all. But out of the 10, only one “threw himself at His feet and thanked Him”. Jesus asked, (and I’m paraphrasing a bit) Dude? Weren’t there 10 of you?? Where are the others? “Rise and go, your faith has healed you”. Here’s the thing. They were already healed. All of them. So why did he tell the ONE that came back to thank Him that he was healed. It’s because he knew the secret to eucharisteo. He was healed from a life filled with worry and dread and hopelessness. He was healed from relying on others for his joy. The leper that came back knew the blessings that follow giving thanks. “In EVERYTHING, give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Everything. This is the secret to an abundant life. One filled with a glimpse of what is to come.
I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful lady a few years ago. Her laugh was contagious. She found joy in the mundane and had a heart for others that was probably the most evident of her gifts. She never met a stranger and was the first to offer encouragement, support, or a laugh when needed. This story doesn’t end well. It happened so fast and my head is still trying to understand. Cancer is ugly and tries to take everything you have; your strength, your hope, your health, your will, your joy, and even your beauty is affected by this disease. But from the moment of diagnosis, to the time she drew her last breath, her joy never wavered. When her pain was unbearable and she could barely breath, she would ask to be taken out to the porch to enjoy the fresh air. As she physically deteriorated, her spirit stayed strong. She knew the secret of eucharisteo. To give thanks in everything. To see the light in the midst of the darkest days. That is a life I want to live. To find joy and hope and peace in the midst of the chaos. So I will continue my journey to see the gifts, the beauty, the treasure. In EVERYTHING give thanks.