Perhaps your mother trained you to show gratitude by sitting you down at the table with a stack of cards, envelopes, and a pencil as soon as the last birthday party guest walked out the door. “Write your thank you notes,” she said. Mom understood something that it seems we’ve forgotten: it is not enough to feel grateful. Gratitude comes to fruition when it is expressed. Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Christian author, speaker, mentor, and host of Revive Our Hearts, would say that writing your thank-you notes is a good place to start, but an attitude of gratitude is the goal and encompasses more than saying, “Thank you” for our gifts.
In Choosing Gratitude, DeMoss elevates gratitude to the status of spiritual discipline. She is convinced that Christians ought to be most the expressive people when it comes to gratitude. Or, as she calls it, “going gratitudinal.” Following a concise explanation of God’s gospel, she writes, “Undeniable guilt, plus undeserved grace, should equal unbridled gratitude.” But this unbridled gratitude, quite distinct from generic gratitude, is Godward and must be cultivated and practiced. “Over time, choosing gratitude means choosing joy. But that choice doesn’t come without effort and intentionality. It’s a choice that requires constantly renewing my mind with the truth of God’s Word, setting my heart to savor God and His gifts, and disciplining my tongue to speak words that reflect His goodness and grace — until a grateful spirit becomes my reflexive response to all of life.”
And it is in explaining “all of life” that Choosing Gratitude becomes most challenging. Are you more prone to whine or to worship? Are you grateful for the most difficult and painful circumstances in your life? Do you allow pain to drive you closer to the Father or does it make you want to withdraw from His grace and fellowship? I enjoy DeMoss’ encouragement to express gratitude for gifts and good times. Citing various scriptures and anecdotes, she writes how gratitude begets more gratitude, blessings and giving. But her compassion really comes through as she writes to the woman in pain, to the woman whose expression of gratitude will be sacrificial. DeMoss takes us to God’s word to provide the language we need to express gratitude, whether it’s gratitude for pleasure or pain.
DeMoss does not want this to be another good book that we forget about as soon as we’re done reading it. Therefore, she provides a 30-Day Devotional Guide to help us begin practicing gratitude. Each reading includes a scripture passage, a meditation that further discusses the content of the book, and practical exercises to help us become more thankful people.
One aspect of Choosing Gratitude that I appreciate most is DeMoss’ transparency. Choosing gratitude has not always been an easy choice for DeMoss; she shares her struggle with obedience in this area, how she sought accountability, and the things she does to help her maintain an attitude of gratitude to God in all circumstances. I loved reading how God worked in her life and how, when it came right down to it, He gave her the grace not to allow anything to get in the way of her fellowship with Him. Spending time with a woman with that kind of spiritual fortitude is always inspiring to me. I highly recommend this book for its insight and spiritual challenge.