Do you eucharisteo? This elegant-sounding word is simple in meaning: To give thanks. The Greek root word of eucharisteo is charis, which means grace, a derivative of chara–Greek for joy. Thanksgiving, grace, and joy all wrapped up in one word, one way of living.

For the past three Monday nights, I have enjoyed the privilege of learning and growing in eucharisteo with a group of friends, acquaintances, and a few new faces. These precious evenings, plus practicing eucharisteo everyday, have been life changing. Eucharisteo is choosing to give thanks, to be intentional about noticing the many, many things in life for which we can be grateful. Though I may be sad when I visit a friend in the hospital, I can give thanks for and find joy in the beautiful sunset that I see on my drive home. It’s about watching my boys play hard in the dirt and being thankful they are are physically able to move (incredibly fast!) and are having fun, rather than focusing on the dirty laundry to come.

Eucharisteo is incredibly beautiful but does not come naturally for me. Giving thanks during pain, struggle, and misunderstanding goes beyond my basic instinct and doesn’t even begin to touch logic. But I have seen and felt and known what living eucharisteo can do. I am telling God that I trust Him, that even in the midst of chaos and great hurt, I believe He is ultimately good and is bringing to life for me Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

As a daily recipient of His grace, I can claim joy as my own, even when I’m shedding tears. It’s not thanking God for the devastation directed toward or surrounding me and those I love. It’s about revering Him as the One True God, even when I can’t see what’s good about the moment.

I blogged a few days ago about the miracle of the loaves and fishes. In that passage, Jesus gives thanks before he multiplies the meal. This happens also in the raising of Lazarus from the dead and at the last supper when Christ shares communion with his beloved Disciples. As my friends and I are learning, in eucharisteo thanks always precedes the miracle. I know I’m not willing to risk losing out on a miracle by refusing to give thanks.

Give thanks everyday and find joy in the ordinary–fish on a line, snowflakes on the tongue, hot coffee on a chilly morning. This is eucharisteo.