Though Spurgeon’s 19th-century volume is the oldest on my list, it might be the most tweetable. Flip to any page, and you’ll find concise, whimsical words about the dangers of a grumbling spirit or God’s delight in our gratitude. Spurgeon teaches us how to instill daily praise and thanksgiving into our lives, whether we’re in a season of sorrow or a season of blessing.
Perhaps you’ve noticed more attention given to gratitude over the past decade, whether in your local bookstore or your social media feed each November. Here’s the book that helped jump-start that movement. With poetic prose, Voskamp takes the reader on a personal journey of observing God’s gifts all around us. As we learn to see God’s world with new, grateful eyes, it changes our perspective on everything else.
Other books on this list might teach us to choose gratitude over grumbling, but this one helps us feel the beauty of a grateful life. Hannah Coulter is an account of one woman’s life as she looks back on belonging to a place and a people through love and loss, grief and gratitude. Through Hannah’s story, we see what it looks like to receive all of life as a gift.
Grumbling is rooted in seeing what we don’t like about something or someone rather than the good God might do through them. It grabs onto frustrating, annoying, or challenging circumstances. Once you step in, it’s easy to get stuck. But affirmation helps pull us loose by clinging to what’s commendable (Phil. 4:8). This book teaches us to consider God’s gracious work by affirming others, which cultivates the discipline of encouragement rather than criticism and complaint.
David W. Pao
This volume, from InterVarsity Press’s excellent series New Studies in Biblical Theology, traces the theme of thanksgiving in Paul’s letters. It helpfully emphasizes the God-centeredness of thanksgiving. Grumbling is symptomatic of a deeper problem: ingratitude toward God. Many books on gratitude focus on the tangible blessings we should see and celebrate. But too often, they stop there. Pao reminds us that thanksgiving should lead us to love and worship the God who gives us all things.
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