I am thoroughly enjoying it so far (thank you , Kara)!
I'm not at all saying that it has been an easy read (I'm on chapter 5)...or that I haven't had to wrestle with some of the stuff Voskamp suggests. I can totally understand how this book has become so controversial in Christian circles. And I am fairly certain that some of the people I respect greatly would feel uneasy about it. And about me reading it and enjoying it.
But, besides the fact that Voskamp writes so beautifully and vulnerably--which I absolutely love, I have enjoyed this book because it elevates thankfulness to its proper place in our lives as believers. Some might say she overemphasizes its importance...or isn't clear enough about Whom we should thank, but I beg to differ. I think she's giving us a vivid example of what it means to 'put off' discontentment by 'putting on' thankfulness (Colossians 3:5-17). And she does so in a very poetic way. In the likeness of her Maker, who happens to be the Author of the Psalms, Proverbs, Songs of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes...and all the major and minor prophets' writings.
What's more, Paul's writings are peppered with admonitions to 'be thankful'. He concludes his passage on 'putting off the old self" and 'putting on the new' with these verses:
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Colossians 3: 15-17
It seems to me that thankfulness can help drive away a lot more than just discontentment....for why would Paul hone in on it after giving us the admonition to put off all sorts of evil practices? The list that Paul gives of evil practices in verse 8 of the same chapter isn't pretty: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech.
No. I don't think Voskamp overemphasizes thanksgiving, or Eucharisteo as she describes it. I think it's just so against our nature to be thankful...and so we need to really practice it. Over and over again...until it becomes second nature. Until we can see God's goodness in every little thing and be able to honestly... give thanks.
As for the Recipient of our thanks, I feel she states it plainly enough throughout her book. She clearly points to the cross early on in the book..and has mentioned the work of Christ several times already and I'm only on chapter 5. I'll keep looking for those. Hopefully, I'll feel the same way about her book after I'm done reading the last page.
Side note: My 6-year-old daughter apparently does not need to read this book. She's got thankfulness down pat. She starts every prayer with 'Thank you, God, for....' with no distinction whatsoever between what we would call a hardship and what we would appreciate as a blessing. We have had the tendency to want to correct her and tell her she needs to change her thanksgiving to a prayer request...when clearly it is a prayer request.
I've tried to back off lately...and let her do her thing.
Just this last week, she had a stomach bug that left her little bottom raw because of all the visits to the restroom. After a therapeutic soak and the usual bedtime routine, it was time to pray. She asked to pray first. Her very first line? "Thank you, God, for my bottom." I smiled right away..and then, as I thought about it some more, I started giggling. She opened her eyes and we exchanged a knowing look. She had done it again. And it was silly.
But it wasn't silly. It was perfect. Without knowing it, she was thanking God for a trial (James 1:2-4). And if her bottom hadn't been raw, to say such a thanks would have been just as much a blessing to me. She would essentially be saying, "Thank you God for the way You made me." Oh, I pray she will continue to pray the way she does...and that she'd really mean it too. That she'd really 'get it'. That I'd 'get it'.
Here's where I begin my thankful list, the 1,000 gifts:
1. I thank God for my sweet little girl who has taught me so much in more ways than one.