Monday, May 20, 2019

Growing in Gratitude

Growing in Gratitude, Mary K. Mohler 

How thankful are you? As you progress in the faith are you growing in gratitude? Mary Mohler wants to encourage Christian women to consider whether their faith in God results in overflowing thanksgiving, for it certainly should.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if gratitude was one of the first things that comes to mind when people think about believers in Jesus Christ... The world should be struck by how grateful we are for the gifts we wholeheartedly believe we possess from God alone.”

Mohler introduces us to two types of gratitude:

  • Natural gratitude: thankfulness for blessing received, for good gifts. This is often the reaction to good news, or a near miss, ‘Thank God!’ There is no real foundation for this thanks.
  • Gracious gratitude: thankfulness to God himself, for who he is. This focuses on praising God for his character and love, and that we can be in a relationship with him.

I found this to be a very insightful point, to consider whether you only thank God for his gifts or you truly thank him for who he is, that being one of the marks of true Christian gratitude. It has struck me as I consider some of the things we thank God for when we say grace before meals.

Over four chapters she then covers four life circumstances with hindrances to gratitude: a burden for the lost, busyness, discontent over circumstance or suffering, and doubt. All are good starting points for each topic, but I really felt each was a bit light, considering the subject matter. I did appreciate her dealing with our burden for the lost upfront, it’s not something that would always be mentioned in this context.

Mohler then turns to how we can thank God for the challenges of life as well as the blessings. Using the language of thorns, echoing Paul talking about the thorn that plagued him, she gives ten ways we can thank God for challenges. These are really helpful for they encourage us to see beyond our current situation and to what God might doing through it, through biblical promises. So we can thank God that whether or not we escape this affliction, our life is hidden with Christ in God, he will not leave or forsake us. We can thank God for the lesson we are learning, that God promises it will not overwhelm us, that it may encourage others, and so on.

The final chapter gives some practical ideas for thankfulness and encouraging others, including expressing thanks to your family members, general courtesy, teaching children to be thankful, and taking the time to communicate with people through written notes and proper thank you cards. Finishing essentially with letter writing seemed an odd place to end, and while she is correct at many levels (and I agree about the lack of effort people make with thank you cards, for mass produced cards are not a proper thank you), I found myself wondering, really, this is where you want to leave it?

Her concluding comments did bring it back to Christ again,
“As we grow in maturity in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus, we will discover new reasons to praising even as we find new ways to thank God for characteristics he has held since eternity past.”
This is a short, primer book which starts the reader on the path of gratitude. It is by no means extensive, but it is a very helpful beginning point. Her biblical referencing points us to to God and Christ and the wonderful reasons we have to be thankful. She raises hindrances to gratitude honestly and carefully, and encourages us to think about our own gratitude, and why it may not be so strong at times. All in all, an encouraging little book for those that long to rediscover the joy of a thankful heart.

No comments: