In the habit of giving thanks

Faith & Inspiration

I take my French Bible with me to the park or the doctor's office because it is a portable size. The benefit of reading Scripture in French is that it is not my language of most common intercourse, so everything is worded slightly differently than what I'm used to. (When you drive to work down a street for the first time, you notice all its unusual features. By the 20th time you don't see anything; you hardly remember how you got to work.)

Here is something I never noticed in Mark 8 till I read the story in French: In verse 6 when Jesus has commanded all the people to sit down, He takes the bread and gives thanks, breaks the loaves and distributes them. Once that is done, He takes fish (verse 7) and blesses it and passes that around too.

Whereas the English uses two different expressions, "having given thanks," and "having blessed them," in the French the giving thanks and the blessing are rendered the same: "ayant rendu grace." (I note that in Greek the first verb is "eucharistesas" and the second "eulogesas.")

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The repeated French rendering brought to my attention that Jesus stopped to give thanks (or to bless) before both courses of the meal. Now you and I usually "say grace" just once and it suffices for the whole dinner. (I worked with a German girl in the seminary café, and she sometimes commented on my habit of praying before we ate, as she claimed it was not a German custom. At first the practice struck her as legalistic.)

The reason this is interesting to me is that it gives me the impression that Jesus prayed at the drop of a hat. He was thankful for the bread, and then He was thankful for the fish. He was thanking His Father all day long for something.

Not a legalistic thing, just a childlike joy in recognizing that God was watching over Him.

The habit of thanks is good medicine, from the Great Physician Himself. I find it dispels depression like nothing else. Partly this is merely "psychological" (it changes your focus from problems to blessings), but I believe it is also spiritual: thanking God or singing praise in the face of melancholy or fear releases God's provisions of grace. For He is "enthroned on our praise."

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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