"Choosing Gratitude" and the Habit of Thank You

There is no pun intended when I say I'm thankful I had the chance the last few days to read "Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, a well-known speaker, author, and nationally-syndicated radio show host. 

I didn't even get past the first few pages before truth started jumping out at me: before even the table of contents, there is a simple poem, which I've re-read several times:

 "Thou that has given so much to me,
Give me one thing more—a grateful heart....

....I cry, and cry again;
And in no quiet canst Thou be,
Till I a thankful heart obtain
              Of Thee.

Not thankful when it pleases me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
              Thy praise."
      ~ George Herbert (1593-1633)

In the chapters to follow {sneak peak: chapter 1}, DeMoss delves into, among others, the meaning and significance of Christian gratitude {thankfulness to God}; the interconnectedness of our guilt, God's grace /the Gospel, and gratitude {"Is the gratitude that flows out of your life as abundant as the grace that flows into your life?"} ; the consequences of ingratitude {DeMoss asserts that ingratitude is the root of deeper sin issues [Rom. 1]}; the differences between "whiners and worshipers", ungrateful and grateful people; and the practical how and what of "going gratitudinal".

Though "Choosing Gratitude" is an easy read, it is not un-thought provoking. It is packed with Scripture passages, sprinkled with stories of peoples' experiences that relate to thankfulness, and tied together with clear insights "that are your journey into heaven-sent joy" (from the foreword by Joni Eareckson Tada). DeMoss writes with gentle, straight forward clarity and transparency; there is never a sense of pride or preaching, in fact the last chapter is a "personal PS" explaining DeMoss' waiting to publish the book before coming to a point where she herself said, "Yes, Lord. I am willing to go with You all the way on this journey of choosing gratitude."

I found it interesting reading part of chapter six {How Can I Say Thanks?} on the importance of verbalizing our thanks. The Bible exhorts us to "speak up", and DeMoss includes verses from Psalm 145 as an example (for instance, "My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord..."). Gratitude should "ring not only in your head but on your tongue," because, DeMoss concludes, thankful words "have power to dissipate that spirit of heaviness" both in ourselves and others, as well as "overcom[e] the lies and schemes of the Enemy."

On another note, I also appreciated chapter eight {But Not without Sacrifice}, because it considers gratitude in the midst of pain and loss. DeMoss includes many stories of individuals going through great suffering and yet being thankful, even if gratitude comes through sacrifice. No, we should not attribute evil to God; yet, as DeMoss writes, the choice for believers is whether we "only give glory to God for the part of our life that's going the way we want" or "worship Him, trust Him, and give Him thanks, just because He is God—regardless of [the situation]." Gratitude is our heart choice to "bless the Lord at all times" (Ps. 34:1).

Throughout "Choosing Gratitude", DeMoss' clear intention is for readers to not simply acknowledge the importance of gratitude but to actually develop and practice a lifestyle of gratitude. As believers, we are exhorted to be thankful and to praise God, and, as the underlying premise of the book seems to be, our gratitude is not simply a canned "thank you", but our response to God's grace, in recognition of His goodness and trustworthiness, and ultimately for His glory. When we focus on Him, and magnify Him, we will have peace, and joy. As Joni Eareckson Tada writes in the foreword, ". . . Not a here-today-and-gone-tomorrow kind of gladness, but a deep and profound joy that simply cannot and will not be shaken. A joy that even sees you through those things you'd be quick to call tragedies."

Disclaimer: This book was received for free from Moody Publishers in exchange for my review.

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