Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle. ― One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9.10-11)
Each year I select a word to focus on in my faith journey each day. Said better, God selects the word and I confirm it. Today the word came to me from Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts. The word Eucharist appears in various forms 53 times in the Greek Scriptures. Strong’s Concordance lays out three ways that these words can be used: 1. To be grateful, to feel grateful; 2. To express gratitude 3. To say grace at a meal. Voskamp points out that the word blends the root words for joy and gratitude at a profoundly basic level. It is more than just reserved for tasting a little bread and fruit of the vine. That celebration in worship should not stand alone or apart from the rest of our lives. Thanksgiving is also more than one day can hold. It is an act and an action that invigorates our lives. When we give thanks to God for what we experience in life, we are delighting in the One who delights in us and our joy multiplies.
Voskamp points to the story of Jesus giving thanks for the meager supplies that ultimately feed thousands, with leftovers to spare. Somewhere between the act of giving thanks and distributing the goods a massive miracle would happen. The assessment of the disciples that they didn’t have nearly enough to feed the crowd would prove untrue. They had all they needed and more to share. This is a magnificent miracle for us to appreciate.
You might say. But that was then. This is now. Jesus performed that miracle. I’m no Jesus. And even if you did count that a miracle, it was just one meal. Our ability to participate in miracles lies in our capacity to be grateful.
So what does this have to do with me? How does this word relate to my life?
I have been struggling a good deal of late with what I now know to be intense compulsive ideation. It became so debilitating that I decided to call a crisis line and go to my local hospital Emergency Room. They considered admitting me, but decided to release me to the care of my sister, a psych nurse. I moved into her basement. They also increased my medication. This would put the ideations to rest. It would also induce sleep. I slept 18 of the next 24 hours.
Where does thanksgiving come to play? In many places.
- I am grateful for modern day psychiatry that could diagnose my brain illness and not spiritualize it as demon possession.
- I am grateful for medication to induce sleep.
- I am grateful for my sister’s care.
- I am grateful for my understanding wife who loves me through these challenges.
- I am grateful for refreshing rest.
Each night before I go to bed I will be writing down five things I’m grateful for and lifting them up to the Lord in prayer. These gratitudes do not in themselves produce miracles, but they often do give me eyes to see miracles already present in my life. It is in giving thanks that our joy is made complete in and through Christ’s body — not just in church, but also at home, in our workplaces, around the community. Our God is a generous God who delights in meeting our needs and making miracles happen.