New book from Mary Mohler calls for a deeper understanding of gratitude
Gratitude is a deeply theological issue, argues Mary Mohler in her new book, Growing in Gratitude: Rediscovering the Joy of a Thankful Heart. The book was released this week.
In her book, Mohler traces the roots of gratitude in the Bible and provides application for readers to live a more gratitude-filled life. The book is available now for purchase from The Good Book Company or Amazon for $12.99, and Amazon Kindle for $5.99.
Mohler, who is the wife of Southern Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr., provides a biblical theology revealing the deeper roots of gratitude. She defines gratitude as something much deeper than just being thankful for blessings bestowed.
“We cultivate gratitude by understanding that it’s so much more than counting our blessings,” she said in a recent interview with Southern Seminary news. “In Scripture, we're told so many times to praise the Lord, to be thankful, and in all circumstances not for all circumstances. We're supposed to be abounding with thanksgiving, so I take that very seriously. This gratitude is very deeply rooted in the Word.”
Understanding that kind of gratitude requires understanding Scripture, she says. From the garden of Eden to salvation, Mohler writes on the role gratitude plays in Scripture and in the lives of Christians. Deep gratitude is both exemplified and commanded: Colossians 2 says to abound in thanksgiving, and Psalm 100 prompts Christians to enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.
Knowing Scripture is essential to understanding gratitude, and Scripture helps increase gratitude in many ways, Mohler explains in the book. She recommends praying through the Psalms: “As we pray through the Psalms, that can do nothing but increase our gratitude. We get back to Scripture.”
Gratitude is an awe of God, a constant awareness of who he is, who he reveals himself to be in Scripture, Mohler says. When it comes to gratitude, God’s honor is at stake.
Mohler offers readers practical ways to live life with more gratitude. Christians must practice gratitude in the good times but also in the hard times. A “natural gratitude,” she explains, is a gratitude for gifts from the Lord. A “gracious gratitude” is a gratitude simply for who God is. Both are necessary. With that, Mohler encourages readers to be thankful for the “thorns” as well.
“It’s much easier to be grateful when things are going well, but we have to work hard to remain grateful when life hurts. It seems almost foolish to thank God when things are hard. But I think that's biblical too. And we see that lived out in Paul's life. He asked three times for his thorn to be taken away. It wasn't.”
A heart of gratitude can easily be hindered by hardship. Christians can be distracted and distraught over the lostness of friends, by busyness, by discontentment, and by doubt and guilt. In all of these circumstances, it is easy to lose sight of the truth, to be robbed of any hint of thankfulness. But God’s word is clear, Mohler said.
“Scripture teaches us in Jude that ‘Christ will present us blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.’ How can we not overflow with gratitude for that?”
To grow in gratitude, Christians can practice gratitude intentionally. One way Mohler encourages readers to do this is to keep a “blessings” journal and a “thorns” journal. The thorns are much more difficult to be thankful for. But because of the Lord’s sovereignty, Christians can express gratitude for them nonetheless.
“We can thank the Lord for the resolve that our thorn in the flesh will not be the hallmark of our life. We will boldly accept the good and the bad. We can thank him for choosing us to walk through this particular adversity for a particular reason — even if we won’t know that reason this side of heaven. We can thank him for the lesson we are learning in the process, and for the people we are perhaps unknowingly encouraging and inspiring along the way.”
Seeing the blessings next to the thorns puts everything into perspective. As she explains, “The roses on the list start to smell sweeter as you’re thankful for the thorns.”
Mohler not only recommends thankfulness toward God for who he is and what he has done but also recommends acts of gratitude toward others. Writing notes of gratitude can bless others, she writes, and the Lord can use those gestures to grow gratitude in the hearts of others.
Growing in Gratitude offers a deeper understanding of gratitude, a thankfulness for the work of God, regardless of circumstance. A resource for growth and giving thanks, this book is spiritual and practical application for thanksgiving.