Elevate 28 - A 28 Day Challenge to Intentionally Engage with God's Word
"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will
of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18
How Can We Give Thanks in All Circumstances?
By John Bloom, www.desiringgod.org
How is it possible to obey 1 Thessalonians 5:18 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 both is the way (John 14:6) and shows the way.
Eucharisteo: Thanks in the Face of Horror
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’” (Luke 22:19).
The Greek word for “thanks” in this verse is eucharisteo. And the best person I know to unpack this word is Ann Voskamp:
The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace.” Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy.” Charis. Grace. Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving. Chara. Joy. (Eucharisteo Conversation)
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 wrath (Isaiah 53:10) so that you will receive supreme glory in being able to forgive undeserving sinners (Philippians 2:11) and I will share eternally full joy (John 15:11; Psalm 16:11) with hundreds of millions of forgiven sinners made righteous through my sacrifice (Isaiah 53:11).
Jesus’s 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 graceand glory that was coming because of the cross and this gave him joy. Eucharisteo.
Future Joy Fuels Your Thankful Endurance
Jesus’s eucharisteo was fueled by his belief in future grace. That’s what the author of Hebrews meant when he wrote that,
Jesus, the founder and perfecter 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. (Hebrews 12:2)
Jesus’s eyes were on his future joy. He got through the cross by not focusing on the cross but on the promised joy that would result from it. That’s where God wants your eyes: on the future joy he has promised you.
What You Have to Look Forward to
And what is your future joy? The very best possible future you could ever imagine — if you will believe it.
You will have the free gift of complete forgiveness for all your sins extending into forever (Romans 6:23).
You will never have to merit your justification by keeping the law (Galatians 2:16).
You will have all your real needs provided while on earth (Philippians 4:19).
You will receive all the grace you need at all times so that you will abound in every good work God has for you (2 Corinthians 9:8).
God will complete the good work he began in you (Philippians 1:6).
You will be raised from the dead and never, ever die again (1 Corinthians 15:52–53).
That means someday soon you will see Jesus, be with him (2 Corinthians 5:8), and be like him (1 John 3:2).
In that day you will know for the first time full, unpolluted joy (Psalm 16:11).
You will be completely free from all corruption (Romans 8:21).
You will have God forever (1 Peter 3:18) as your exceeding joy (Psalm 43:4).
And that’s just a small sampling! The joy set before you is the same joy Jesus had set before him, because you are an heir of the kingdom with him (Romans 8:17).
Look to the Joy Set Before You
So right now you have trouble. That’s okay. Jesus said that you would (John 16:33). And Jesus really understands (Hebrews 4:15).
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 trouble because they see a future weight of glory coming that makes everything this world throws at them as “light momentary afflictions” in comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17).
So, how can you give thanks in all circumstances? There’s only one way: Jesus’s way. Look to the joy set before you. Look to the joy! If the future joy Jesus promises is real and you believe him, there is no circumstance that can steal your thanksgiving.
Jon Bloom serves as author, board chair, and co-founder of Desiring God. He is author of three books, Not by Sight, Things Not Seen, and Don’t Follow Your Heart. He and his wife have five children and make their home in the Twin Cities.
REFLECT & RESPOND
Multi-Media Fun for All
Explore the internet to learn about God’s word – there is something to find for all ages.
Enjoy these options and use them as examples of what the internet has to offer - to help you find more for you and your family.
For Young Children:
Coloring Sheet and Word Find: http://meaningfulmama.com/1-thessalonians-518-coloring-sheet-about-thankfulness.html
Cute crafts for young children. The word find may require adult or teen support.
For 8 years and up:
JumpStart3 |1Thessalonians 5:16-18 | Official Lyric Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlthKHojmzA
Great music video for elementary and middle school students – enjoy the catchy rap song style while learning about giving thanks to God.
Kid President’s 25 Reasons To Be Thankful!
Teens are growing up worried about their world – and often struggle to see goodness around them. The Kid President video should help them remember things that are good about the world – things they should be thankful for. As a follow up – read and reflect upon Psalm 27:13 – “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”
For All Ages:
Thanksgiving Every Day – Dr. Charles Stanley:
Settle down with a cup of coffee or hot tea or maybe some milk and cookies - to enjoy a 27 minute video with Dr. Charles Stanley.
This activity was provided by the Teacher Love Project - a Why Not Charleston community education initiative. The Teacher Love Project aims to provide love and encouragement to teachers that will elevate their wellness and care and therefore, enhance student achievement. We must care for those who care for our children - we must love each other because God loved us first.
"We love because he first loved us."
1 John 4:19
by Taraea L. Griffith
Father I devote myself to prayer being watchful and thankful. I give you thanks Lord, calling on your name making known what you have done to the nations. I sing praise to you Lord God telling of all your wonderful acts. Lord I give you thanks because you are good and your mercies endures forever. Thank you Most High God for your righteousness and truth which extends to all generations. I thank you in all circumstances for this is your will for me in Jesus Christ Holy name. Amen
References: 1 Chronicles 16:8, 34
Taraea L. Griffith lives in Charleston with her husband, children, and grandchildren. She is a poet and writer, and making an offering of her special gifts and talents as a Why Not Charleston 2020 contributor.
THRU THE LENS - FINDING YOURSELF IN GOD'S WORD
A blog by regular men and women about finding themselves in God's world
Forged Through The Fire
By: Candice Hilse
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will
for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
There is nothing more joyful than the time nearing having a baby and its arrival. This was my second pregnancy, and I remember thinking life was perfect when my first came. Work was great, we were ready and things were so exciting.
About two weeks before our little girl came, I got a call. She was fine, so trust me, I understand this is not a life or death issue before reading on.The call was from my biz partner. We had a great few years, but this call was to let me know we were facing a precipice if things didn't start to look up- that we were nearing the edge of a cliff. Everything we had stock piled and stashed aside for growth and development was being drained out for operations and survival mode.
This, friends, was a big deal, because $$$ is where my anxiety lived. I had the rug pulled out from me in my teen years by a divorce any time there is a financial risk, I assumed the worst and the fetal position at the same time. I am that girl who could base jump off a freaking cliff but ask me to look at the big picture of how much is coming and going, and I'd sooner base jump off that cliff without the parachute.
All of the sudden, all I could see was not the joy ahead, but the struggle, the unrelenting fear of a future. Satan turned up the heat, too. I was distraught, crying all the time (on top of the baby hormones). Then, I was angry. Why was this special time being taken from me- ruined by the emotional and financial hardship?! How could God allow this?
I wanted out and away fast, but God used everyone around me, including my husband to tell me that I wasn't called to leave. Every time I wanted to give up, I would see a verse or here the wisdom from someone else's lips that I was made for more.
One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching
forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the
prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus
The truth is, I kept wanting to believe God wanted me to quit, to walk away, but He wanted me healed. He allowed things to burn, so that I could feel the fire and realize it wasn't as hot as I thought, and that I would survive that most fearful and anxious place and be freed of it. We're still recovering, but we are moving forward. God is showing me day by day to fight harder for bigger and better opportunities to work and serve Him, and I have never had so many ministry opportunities (what I always wanted) since I've walked through it.
The most beautiful part of this is, however, that He is freeing me through every trial. I never understood the full scope of His work until I have walked this journey. I still don't completely understand and my faith still falters, but He told me very clearly He would deliver me. He has and will carry me through.
Many years ago, a part of my joy was stolen. He is restoring me, and ensuring my sweet baby girl doesn't have to live with her momma's fears on her delicate shoulders. She will stand tall and fearless and captivating in truth that she is a beautiful child of God.
If you're feeling cheated or broken or anxious. pray that God will sooner reveal His plan for you and what He is teaching you or others through you right now. Thank you God for the trial. Without the fire, I would never be forged. Please show me Your will always so that I may walk in fire aware of the lesson and beauty You are creating in me.