In everything, give thanks. How do those four word strike you? As naïve? Infuriating? Impossible? Offensive? For Ann Voskamp, the notion of being able to give thanks was lost between her gnawing anger and deep resentment toward God for his unfair dealings. Having suffered from agoraphobia and anxiety for much of her life, she despaired of finding a joy of her own. Then, a friend dared her to write a list of a thousand blessings. Take on the life-changing discipline of journaling God's gifts—to discover a way of seeing that opens our eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of living that is fully alive, and a way of becoming present to God that brings deep and lasting joy.
In a moment, without even seeing it coming, we all hit life’s unexpected potholes and feel jarring pain. The question is not: Will you and I have these moments of loss and dizzying confusion? The real issue is: How will we respond to these inevitable and unavoidable moments? When we discover the secret to a heart of gratitude, we can face these certain moments with grace, strength, and even what seems impossible: joy.
A ride in a glass-bottomed boat creates a picture of our lives. When we skim along the surface of life, accelerating and covering great distances quickly, everything below becomes a blur, lost in the darkness of the waters. But when we slow, stop, notice, reflect, and give thanks — it’s right there: the goodness and grace of God all around us.
Joy is to find God where one doubts he can be found. All is grace! Are there things in your life that you still can't count as graces from God? Thank God that he can truly help us find beauty in that which seems only ugly in the world's eyes. This is the way of God, his way that he calls his people to wildly trust. Sometimes what looks ugly at first glace is the birthplace of God's most exquisite gifts.
As we journey through this life, at times we need a bridge over the fears, pains, losses, and craziness swirling treacherously around us. God does not promise to remove all struggles and alleviate every roadblock. For Ann, agoraphobia and anxiety have been her obstacles to face. What God does with such roadblocks is to build bridges that will carry us to joy, hope, and ultimately to heaven.
When we receive gifts from God, we have two choices: to hold onto them, or give them away. If we receive grace and joy and give them to others, we are fresh and filled with life—we become more like Christ. When we take and hold onto the good gifts of God and never pour out for others, we become bitter and toxic—something inside of us dies.