In Everything Give Thanks
Just today, while I was preparing this article, someone close to me found out his company was closing. Now unemployed, with no sure prospects, no guarantees for two week severance, the holidays closing in, and not ready for job interviews. As they contacted me for advice and prayer, I simply said, "give thanks." That may seem cruel and callous, unless you understand the context of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
To give thanks in everything seems like a tall order. I mean, give thanks in the midst of a car accident? An illness? Worse?
The section starts with rejoice, (Greek - chairo) always. Chairo was a Greek equivalent of "aloha" in Hawaiian. It meant joy, rejoicing, a greeting and more. The root of the word is related to "charis", the word for grace and "chara", the word for joy.
Then, what should seem obvious to us, pray without ceasing. This is an utter dependance on the Lord. You're always connected to Him.
This is followed by, "in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." The way we read that, it seems like we had better be thankful or we miss the will of God. Inspiring, right? Actually, it is here we see the arc of what Paul was writing.
To begin with, let's start at the end. "This is the will of God", is not so much a checklist of obedience as it is the desire of God for our lives. He longs for us to be joyful always, in communication through a dependency on Him and to be thankful. Now, this word, "thankful" is more than something we think about at Thanksgiving! It is the word "eucharisteo", we get the word, "eucharist", refering to the Lord's table.
Why is it refered to as "thankful"? "Eu" means well. When we give a eulogy, we are speaking well of someone (eu - well, logy from logos - word). When we give "eucharisteo", we are returning the well, good grace of God to Him. Yes, "charis", the word for grace is right in the middle of the word. Put altogether it means to "return grace to God". You basically are on a God hunt, seeking where His grace is in your life and situation. This hunt is the center of life. Where, even in the worst circumstances of life, can I find God at work? There is an opposite of this word, "krina" which means to judge. When we are looking for God's grace, we are not looking to judge the circumstances, God or anyone else, but to affirm all that God has done and is doing in our midst. It literally changes our minds. The center of Charis is "chara" joy. Our giving thanks produces great joy!
Giving thanks resets our frame of mind. It shifts us from victimhood to being blessed and highly favored (another interpretation of the opening word to "rejoice"). It begins to open our mind to see possiblities that were always there, but hidden from view and perception. This phrase gives us a direction of prayer, namely, "Lord, where are you already at work in the midst of my need? Many times when we are hit with circumstances, the accompanying myopia of not being able to see God anywhere, lies against the truth: we are favored and God is always at work!
Now, do you see why this is the pleasure of God in Christ Jesus concerning you? It is God's good pleasure to have us always be in the awareness of being favored, of connecting with Him to see where He is working and to return the results of our newly recalibrated "search engine" to Him. We are thankful, joyful, and prayerful in all things of life! As we enter in earnest to the Thanksgivng season, lead with this mindset - rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks for this is the will/pleasure of God in Christ Jesus concerning you!
Oh yes, my friend? I literally asked them to begin to give thanks so that their hearts would open to what God is already doing. Nothing takes Him by surprise and nothing defeats Him. Remember what our friends, Steve and Wendy Backlund always say, "You have permission to be hopeless in anything that God is hopeless over."
Remember our special "ONE FUSION FAMILY" gatherings this weekend. No service on Saturday, Novemebr 23rd and then two services, one at 10 am and one at 6 pm. At the 6 pm service we will receive a thanksgiving offering for those with needs among us.
Giving thanks for you,