On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your gratitude? If you had asked me this spring, I probably would have rated mine about a 8.2.
But then I read Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Through this book the Lord worked in my heart to show me how ingratitude had worked its way into my life in ways I had not recognized. Subtle expectations I hadn’t identified and buried pride surfaced.
As the subtitle suggests, this book connects the dots between gratitude and Christian joy. I already knew the two are related, but I was challenged through the book to recognize specifically on what points they connect—namely humility and an outward focus.
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in ourselves—even in our service to others—that we become burdened and inward focused. Choosing Gratitude highlights how effective gratitude is to usher us into the presence of God. It enables us to break away from ourselves and renew our joy.
Even today, as I flip back through the book to reread my highlights, I was challenged anew. Here are a few:
- Don’t try living the Christian life without gratitude. By sheer willpower and effort, you may succeed at “gutting out” right responses, but your Christianity (so-called) will be hollow, hard-edged, and uninviting to others.
- Christ-centered, grace-motivated gratitude fits everywhere, even in life’s most desperate moments and difficult situations. Even when there are no “answers,” it gives hope. It transforms overwhelmed strugglers into triumphant conquerors.
- Gratitude is a lifestyle. A hard-fought, grace-infused, biblical lifestyle.
- Undeniable guilt, plus undeserved grace, should equal unbridled gratitude.
- Any time our focus is on ourselves—even if it’s on the good things we’re doing—it keeps us from being grateful for what others are contributing. We lose our appreciation for our spouse, children, friends, and coworkers when we constantly view them through our own shadow.
- To ignore such unmerited favor or consider it God’s obligation to us is to miss out on the vision of His loveliness and glory that will sustain us through life’s battles and keep joy flowing into and out of our heart.
- In every situation, prayer + thanksgiving = peace.
- Gratitude is a revealer of the heart, not just a reporter of details. And among the things it reveals about us most is our level of humility.
- If you’ve always wanted prayer to be as natural as breathing, then pave the way with gratitude, and see if prayer “without ceasing” doesn’t become your experience instead of your exception.
- In the midst of relentless ministry deadlines and seemingly endless tasks, I find that the “burden” of my workload is lightened when I approach it as a high and holy calling, a gift to be received with gratitude.
- The act of expressing gratitude breeds joy.
- A heavy heart lifts on the wings of praise.
I read the book scattered through more sittings than I normally like, catching several pages during my lunch break or before bed. But each time I opened it, the book was a breath of fresh air—an encouragement to experience joy by choosing gratitude.
My favorite part of the book, however, was the thirty-day gratitude journal in the back. It was the icing on the cake for an already helpful book. You can begin this gratitude journal even as you read the book at the same time. In fact, I highly recommend you use the gratitude journal this month of Thanksgiving!