Giving thanks changes everything. When we find someone giving thanks in the Bible, there’s usually a miracle close by. The feeding of thousands, the healing of the leper, a changed heart. That’s not to say that giving thanks causes miracles—but they’re definitely related.
This is Day 19 of our 30 Days of Thankful. We’ve been talking about giving thanks to God for our blessings. Becoming more aware of His many benefits, large and small.
But what about the hard places? Can we thank God when we’re going through trials? During times of suffering and pain? The Bible tells us to do just that. And this is where the real stretch comes.
The book of James takes it a step further. He encourages us to “consider it pure joy” when we face those hard times when our faith is tested, promising that the testing or our faith “produces perseverance.” “Perseverance,” he promises, will make us “mature and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). A different translation tells us to “be very happy” when trials come our way (GW). Seriously?
To help us understand the connection between giving thanks and joy, let’s take another look at the following verses:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Rejoice. There’s that pesky word again. Rejoice, or chairo, is the verb form of the word we just saw translated as “joy’ in James 1:2. We’re instructed here to “give thanks in all circumstances.” All circumstances—not just the good ones. Are you tracking with me?
The word translated as “thanks” in this verse is Eucharisteo. It comes from eu, which means “good or well,” and chairo, or “rejoice.” So the word, thanks, actually comes from the word for rejoice.
If this makes you a little dizzy, it should. But when you stop to think about it, giving thanks is an expression of joy. When we give thanks in hard places, we are saying to God that we trust Him so much that we can be joyful, even when going through trials.
Why? Because this is the time when our faith really grows. We mature. So we’ll be lacking in nothing. Not missing out on one single blessing God has for us. And when you think about it, that’s reason enough to give thanks….and to rejoice!