It’s easy to talk about being thankful during this Holiday Season for all the many blessings we experience in our lives. No sweat there. But what about other times, when the blessings seem few and far between? Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to give thanks in “all” circumstances. Note, he doesn’t tell us to be thankful for our situation, but rather, to be thankful in our situation.
- When the bills are due and the finances are low;
- When alcoholism or pornography take a front row seat in our marriages;
- When our spouse walks away in pursuit of another bride;
- When the child we poured our hearts into has plummeted into a self-destructive path of addictions;
- When the business fails and our dreams are shattered;
- When friends lie, or loved ones pass away;
- When trauma strikes,
…..how can we find any reason to be thankful?
Or worse yet, how in the world are we supposed to even come close to following the exhortation of James (1:2) who tells us to “consider it all joy” when we encounter various trials? Beats me.
But there is a greater story in the midst of our sufferings. It is a story of rescue, redemption, and hope. It is a story intertwined in the infamous cliché that we hear so often, “Let go and let God.” It is a story of faith in a God who is not only sovereign, but intimately compassionate towards us. The psalmist writes, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and [delivers] those who are crushed in spirit” (34:18). For that, we can be thankful.
Ann Voskamp writes about her own painful journey toward thankfulness in her book, One Thousand Gifts. “How do we choose to allow the holes to become seeing–through-to-
God places? How do [we] give up resentment for gratitude, gnawing anger for spilling joy? Self-focus for God-communion?” Her answer? Eucharisteo. Or simply put, thanksgiving.
But there’s more. Eucharisteo envelopes joy, and grace. Eucharisteo is to fully live – “To live full of grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal.” Is this possible? Voskamp says that it is, but only if we dare to live an emptier, fuller life. It begins with an attitude of thankfulness, not just for the many blessings in our lives, but for the painful circumstances that bid us to search deep for the beauty if we are to survive. Eucharisteo: it is the Greek word with the hard meaning and the even harder meaning to live.” But it is the only way to live from “empty to full.”
James adds that in choosing joy in the midst of our trials, we grow, we mature, and afterwards, we receive the crown of victory that God has promised to those who love Him (1:12).
Thanksgiving is about more than thankfulness. It is the beginning of an answer to the curveballs of adversity that come our way. Thanksgiving is defined within Eucharisto. But only if we choose, and only if we dare.
I dare. Do you?
 Voskamp, A. (2010). One thousand gifts: a dare to live fully right where you are. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan.