Book Review: One Thousand Gifts

Most mornings she woke weary, beaten down by dirty floors and crying children and heavy tasks. Her mind looked for escape from what lay ahead: the same as yesterday, tomorrow, and next week. Like a stagnant pond. She worked hard yesterday only to find much that needed to be tackled again. Would her life ever change?

But several circumstances rippled her life’s surface. A dream, a letter, and an email all spoke of death, starting a wave for her to realize she didn’t want to die. She did want to live, but now to live more fully than she had been. Some people she knew seemed to live with joy and peace. But how?

Ann Voskamp, the author of One Thousand Gifts, looked at Jesus’ life and death and saw He gave thanks a lot. He thanked the Father, and the original language for thanks uses the word eucharisteo. The root of eucharisteo means grace, a gift we don’t deserve, and more still, a derivative of that root is joy. Joy and grace and thanks are intrinsically linked like a braided rope. A strong rope.

Our life is a gift of God’s grace, and as we thank Him for it, we are filled with joy. We live fully. Thanksgiving introduces grace and joy into our lives.

Ingratitude, ungratefulness. Adam and Eve fell prey to this in the garden. They were discontent with what God gave them so they coveted more. Satan, also, fell from Paradise because he wanted to be more than he was. We all want more. More possessions, more fun, more money. Whatever we have never contents us. We are driven to get more.      

Of the ten lepers, only one went back and thanked Jesus for his healing. And what did Jesus say? “Your faith has made you whole.” (ASV) His healing was complete, fuller. The others were healed, too, but this one received more. When we give thanks in everything, we prepare the way for salvation’s complete restoration. To be fully whole, we must give thanks for everything.

Many times Jesus thanked God for bread and fish, resulting in miraculous bounty to feed the multitudes with Him. God multiplied whatever He was thanked for. The people had all they needed and more from God.

When Jesus offered thanks on the night he was betrayed, He thanked God for all that was to come, including his death. This invites us to give thanks for all that God allows in our lives, even our death. Dying daily to ourselves, our selfish desires, and giving thanks for it? Sounds painful. And hard.

But Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, more fully. So we thank Him, trusting Him to multiply our everyday blessings. We thank Him because He is good even if our situation looks bleak, and we confidently expect He remains in control of our lives, eager to exchange our thanks for abundant life.

So our lives can change, no longer a stagnant pond. A new attitude — Thank you, Lord —  bursts free those same daily routines, becoming gifts, becoming joy.