Lately, I’ve started and stopped reading a couple of books, because they just seemed empty and trite, nothing for me to sink my teeth in. But yesterday, I started reading a new one that I have already poured myself into, a quarter of the way in less than 12 hours: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.
I’d originally heard about the book from Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking, who had mentioned it in a couple of posts. (Lindsay also keeps lists of all her book reading, which I get good recommendations and ideas from.)
One Thousand Gifts chronicles the author's exploration of a need for thanksgiving in all things—even in our greatest pain and struggles. She shares all the death that has ravaged her family, including her sister who was killed before she lived to know kindergarten and her nephews who died months after birth and her mother-in-law, lost to cancer. All these deaths that hurt and don’t seem to make any sense when we think of what it means for God to be "good."
This book is an exploration of those hard questions. Of what it means to be thankful even in those searing, scarring times. Poetic and beautiful and gut-wrenching and honest, Voskamp takes readers along as she probes the Bible, great theologians and the routine of everyday life for insights about this need for gratitude to encompass every portion of our lives.
“On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces…” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24) When Voskamp reads this, she writes, “Jesus offers thanksgiving for even that which will break Him and crush Him and wound him and yield a bounty of joy….”
Thanksgiving in the hardest of times was modeled perfectly by Christ. And it is a practice that God calls us to. Psalms 50:23 says, “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may who him the salvation of God.” She says, “The act of sacrificing thank offerings to God—even for the bread and cup of cost, for cancer and crucifixion—this prepares the way for God to show us his fullest salvation from bitter, angry, resentful lives and from all sin that estranges us from Him.”
It is in learning to be thankful for every moment, for the big, the little, the easy, the difficult, the inconvenient, the anguishing, that we are drawn deeper into our God’s embrace and, almost paradoxically, into a fulfilling joy.
This is about as far as I am into this heartfelt journey Voskamp takes readers on in One Thousand Gifts. I know, from reading Lindsay's reports on the book, that I've hardly scratched the surface of what this book is about. But it’s already got me thinking about my lack of gratitude for all that God has given me and my need for it to permeate my soul deeper. Like few other books of late, it has awakened me and encouraged me to take my faith deeper and farther in this regard.
“From all of our beginnings, we keep reliving the Garden story. Satan, he wanted more. More power, more glory. . . . Satan’s sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave,” Voskamp writes. “Isn’t that the catalyst of all my sins? Our fall was, has always been, and always will be that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”