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Much of this material is adapted from One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp.

Have you ever wondered why Paul says in Philippians 4, “Don’t worry about anything but pray about everything, with thanksgiving bring your requests to God?” The word “thanksgiving” may seem out of place as the context of the verse is about being worried or anxious. Are we really supposed to be thankful when we are under stress? Yes! And the reason is found in the root words of “thankfulness” in the New Testament

The Greek Word for Thanksgiving is Eucharisteo

In the NT, when we see the words  “give thanks,” the word being translated is eucharisteo (εὐχαριστέω). When we break this word down, we see that charis (χαρις) is one of the root words which means “grace.” This is why we “say grace” before a meal. Within the root of gratitude is understanding God’s grace. God’s grace is about his unmerited favor toward us. Being thankful is really about understanding all that God has done for us and seeing our lives through his grace poured out for us.

There is one more treasure found in the root words for eucharisteo. A related word to charis is chara, which means “joy.” Now we see that thankfulness is rooted in God’s grace and related to finding joy in him. Put this all together and here is what Paul means in this verse: being thankful reminds us of God’s grace which allows us to experience joy even in our suffering.

Apply the Power of Thankfulness to the Difficult Situations in Your Life

Paul’s words aren’t crazy. There is a mystery to our ability to be thankful and its power is rooted in its meaning. This is why we can be thankful and find joy in the hard times of life because our thankfulness points us back to the character and faithfulness of God. Instead of worrying about whatever situation we face, we can spend our energy on being thankful for God’s grace, which reminds us of the great things he’s already done in our lives. Jesus understood eucharisteo.

1 Corinthians 11:23-25 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.”

Hebrews 12:2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

If Jesus could find a way to be thankful in facing the atrocity of the cross, surely we can find ways to be thankful in our times of trial.

[Related: Thankfulness Isn’t Just for Thanksgiving (Psalm 100)]

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. On a scale of 1-10, how thankful of a person are you? Explain.
  4. How has thankfulness impacted your life in the past?
  5. Read Philippians 4:6. Identify all the actions steps this verse tells us to do. What is usually your first response when you face a trial? What is the best way to respond?
  6. Define grace in your own words. How has God been gracious toward you in your life? How can recalling those things give you perspective on the current trials you face?
  7. Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-25. Identify all the things Jesus was teaching or modeling in this passage for his disciples.
  8. Read Hebrews 12:2. Why do you think Jesus could look at the cross with joy? What does it mean for your life that Jesus was willing to endure hardship for your sake?
  9. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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