Grateful Spirituality: a book review

The Bible tells us to always be thankful at all times(Ephesians 5:20). God always gives good gifts but some gifts sting a little. We suffer. Thanks. We get demoted. Thanks bunches. We feel isolated and alone. Yay. We are humbled. Thank you Lord. Our hearts and spirits are broken. Muchas Gracious. 

Christians can give thanks in all things because we live with the conviction that all things work together for good for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:28). If that is true than grace hides in hard places. Joshua Choonmin Kang, pastor of New Life Vision Church in Koreatown, Los Angeles and author of Deep-Rooted in Christ explores the spirituality of gratitude, in (the aptly titled) Spirituality of GratitudeKang explores the grace of difficult circumstances, the benefits of gratitude and how to cultivate it. There are fifty-two pithy chapters divided into five sections. Kang is a perceptive writer on the spiritual life, and each chapter offers an incisive look at experience of gratitude, often in difficult circumstances. There is a flow to the book’s organization, but each chapter can be read on its own. The short chapters work as devotional reading.

In part one, Kang explores the grace of endurance, downward-mobility, isolation, humility and brokenness. Part two examines where we can be grateful for problems, thorn, vulnerability, deficiency, ‘being crumbled’,  having the ‘freedom to see the good.’ and slowness. Part three and four looks at  the benefits and spiritual gifts  of gratitude. Part five explores the ‘path to  gratitude’ and growing in a thankful orientation.

While this is a book about cultivating an ‘attitude of gratitude,’ this isn’t a hallmark-y, sentimental book. I appreciated the theological thoughtfulness behind each of these meditations. Kang has a gift for exploring the various circumstances of life and showcasing God’s grace there. We have a lot to be thankful for, whatever our circumstances if only we had eyes to see. Kang has eyes that see the gifts of God for us, and he helps us all to see and understand all that God has for us.

This is not a personally revelatory book. Kang will talk about the experience of aging but this isn’t a book that describes his own struggle to be grateful in difficult circumstances. If Kang has had personal struggles in learning thankfulness he doesn’t really share them.  However Kang writes graciously and to read this book is to be invited to see the gifts of God in all of life. I give this book four stars and recommend it as devotional reading.

Notice of material connection: I received this book from InterVarsity Press in exchange for my honest review

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I am a pastor, husband, father, instigator, pray-er, hoper, writer, trouble-maker, peacemaker, and friend. Who are you?

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