Rejoice, pray, thank

Rejoice, pray, thank

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thess 5:16-18

John Stott pointed out that the word translated “give thanks” here also gives us the word “eucharist.” The “eucharist” is not about our understanding or our mood but rather our conscious decision to commune with Jesus.

Some translations render “rejoice” as “be cheerful,” but many times that does not feel practical or helpful. The word behind it is “grace.”

And the word behind “pray” comes from a combination of “to” and “hope” or “desire.”

Always χαίρετε (-> grace)
Unceasingly προσεύχεσθε (-> towards + hope/desire)
In everything εὐχαριστεῖτε (-> eucharist)

Perhaps it might help us to think of this familiar injunction less as a Sisyphean list of things we have to try to achieve and more as a gentle but persistent call to reorient ourselves. Less rowing, more steering. Something like:

Always be on the look out for grace and take delight in it
Whatever hopes and desires buffet you, steer your ship towards God
In all weathers, cling gratefully to Christ – the captain of your soul

Instead of adding more unachievable tasks to the burdens we are already carrying alone, Christ simply invites us just to keep putting ourselves by His side. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)