I recently read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It was a delightfully poetic and theologically rich book. It took me awhile to get used to her writing style, but once I began to see how not just what she said, but the way in which she said it made herself so vulnerable to the readers. She truly opened up her heart and daily experiences to allow others to see what God calls us to, in our ordinary mundane lives.
The essence of the book is that thankfulness, gratitude profoundly affects one’s faith, life, outlook, personality, everything. Being thankful is necessary. The Lord says to be thankful throughout the Scriptures. The Psalms are filled with believers declaring God’s goodness and faithfulness and their response of gratitude. One Thousand Gifts was so very refreshing. Simple. Yet profound.
The whole idea of living in daily gratitude, filled with thankfulness in every moment is something that I’ve had in my heart for quite some time. For as long as I can remember my “theme verse” so to speak has been James 1:2-4
“Count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
(Hence the “Consider it Joy” tattoo on my foot.)
Anyway, that has been the song of my heart since middle school. The trials I have experienced in life have allowed me to experience God, see His provision, and know His joy. I love being able to tell others the ways the Lord has been so good and faithful in my life; I love being able to tell of His mercies and His power; I love being able to tell of the Lord’s willingness to see us through the deepest, darkest nights as well as the lustrous, happy days. I remember a Wednesday night at youth group when we were talking about trials. My student minister, who I consider a big brother, asked me to speak a bit up front and said “When I think of someone going through trials, I think of you.” It was humbling to think that as a high schooler, God was preparing my heart and even then teaching me that He allows us to go through tough things to shape us into more pure image bearers, holier disciples. Our trials can indeed point others to the gospel.
On one of my trips to the Dominican Republic in high school, we talked about Romans 5. And the first 5 verses in that chapter incredibly spoke to me and became something I would constantly cling to.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Suffering. Endurance. Character. Hope.
Trials. Steadfastness. Complete and Perfect.
God set it up this way for a reason. No matter what we face, we can face it with a thankful heart and mind.
My reading of One Thousand Gifts was extremely timely. While in the midst of reading about living in thankfulness, I got a horrible case of poison ivy. Almost a month ago I was doing some yard work. The poison ivy didn’t show up until a week and a half after that, so we figured it was bug bites or something. But it just kept getting worse. Finally I saw my dear nurse practitioner friend and got some medication. But the pain and the medication kept me from sleeping. It was just all around an exhausting week. Thankfully, I’m on week three of having it, have literally used 6 tubes of hydrocortisone, and it is finally healing. Spencer has been a trooper through it, that’s for sure.
We are determined to be grateful for whatever we face. Already we’ve been able to experience things that people wouldn’t call a “newlywed dream” or anything. Spence got the stomach virus a day after the wedding. I’ve had several migraines, and now the poison ivy. We have stories from our trip to Costa Rica that definitely don’t make it sound like a glamorous honeymoon. We can talk to you personally about other things we have experienced in our short time together so far.
We’ve only been married two months, and we’ve seen God’s goodness and faithfulness in so many ways. We cannot stop giving thanks. Ever.
This might have been a jumbled mess. It’s just some thoughts. Writing thoughts down is almost therapeutic for me.