Thursday, November 26, 2015
Thanksgiving and Joy
My thoughts today are focused on a devotional by Edward T. Welch in Heart of the Matter. I've read it over and over because it explains joy so simply and so well.
Thanksgiving is gratitude for a benefit we have received. Joy includes gratitude, but it's true delight is in the beauty of God and the deep goodness in all the things that come from him. Joy draws attention outward with a non-possessive appreciation for something that is good.
For example, you are in a boat and about to die. The winds have whipped the waters in to a maelstrom that will engulf you within minutes. Jesus speaks a word and the waters are still. No one, however thanks him. They are all too amazed (Matthew 8:23-27). This amazement at Jesus' power is the beginning of joy. It is not primarily self-referential. It is more than satisfied to contemplate the majesty of the One who just spoke.
Another example: You are blind. Jesus is coming and you call out for mercy. When he stops, he asks what you want. You ask for sight. When he gives it to you, you don't simply thank him, you follow him. This too, is the beginning of joy. Your attention is captured by the Giver more than the benefit received (Matthew 20:29-34).
The word thanks and thanksgiving can be found dozens of times in Scripture. The words joy, gladness, rejoice, and enjoy can be found hundreds of times.