The Grumbler's Guide to Giving Thanks Review

Book Review: 

In 2018, I purchased a Levenger 5-year journal to record short thoughts and develop a daily journaling habit. Towards the end of last year, I reviewed my entries, and what I saw disheartened me. Pages upon pages of complaining! My constant grumbling disgusted me, and I trembled at how much more revolting it was to God. So I embarked on a quest to learn contentment and gratitude. The Lord in His goodness put several resources on my path. The latest one is The Grumbler’s Guide to Giving Thanks: Reclaiming the gifts of a lost spiritual discipline by David Crowe.

Like me, Crowe is a grumbler. Specifically, a “grumbling, pessimistic, need to smile more, glass-half-empty kind of guy.” Many of us can relate to this description because complaining comes naturally to us—as effortless a breathing.

Gratitude, however, takes work. As a result, believers often neglect the spiritual discipline of giving thanks or only practice it once a year. It shouldn’t be. Giving thanks is essential. More than that, it’s God’s will for us and a biblical command (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Therefore, Crowe wrote this book to help believers recover the spiritual discipline of thanksgiving and pursue it with fear and trembling.

The Grumbler’s guide to Giving Thanks has nine chapters divided into three principal parts.

The first section lays the foundation of biblical thanksgiving and comprises chapters 1-3. Crowe explores four aspects of biblical thanksgiving, builds out its theology, and lists its benefits in our daily life.

The next section expands on these four aspects of biblical thanksgiving which are, “thankful, thankful to God, thankfulness to God expressed, and thankfulness to God leading to joy in God.” It comprises chapters 4-7, where Crowe shows how to identify reasons to be thankful, recognize God as the giver of all gifts, how and why we should express our gratitude and how thanksgiving teaches us more about God.

The last section explores how the believer can give thanks to God in all circumstances. This includes when we don’t feel like giving thanks or when life isn’t good.

Overall, Crowe treated this topic well. A few key things stood out to me.

First, Crowe provides a biblical exposition of thanksgiving and lists its benefits. As Donald Whitney said in Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, “discipline without direction is drudgery.” Learning the rewards of thanksgiving in my spiritual growth and my relationship with God motivates me to apply it.

Second, the book is practical. Crowe follows every explanation with examples, either from the Scriptures or his own life. And each chapter features a “putting it into practice” where he gives practical steps to apply what we have learned.

Third, Crowe presents aspects of giving thanks I never considered. For instance, feeling thankful isn’t enough; we must also express it. We often don’t express our gratitude to the Lord because He knows our hearts. But Scripture says to give thanks, not feel grateful.

Last and best of all, Crowe always leads our gratitude back to God. He repeatedly emphasizes that gratitude isn’t about the gifts but the giver. We must always trace the gifts back to Him and learn what it reveals about Him.

One thing, however, concerned me with this book. Crowe quotes and mentions Anne Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts a few times and lists it as one of the “good books” that helped him learn about biblical thanksgiving. It concerned me because Ann Voskamp is not a doctrinally sound teacher, and many trustworthy bloggers, such as Tim Challies, reviewed One Thousand Gifts and didn’t recommend it. Crowe doesn’t endorse or condemn the book explicitly, but its favorable mention was enough to make me wary.

Besides that, I enjoyed reading The Grumbler’s Guide to Giving Thanks as it encouraged me to renew and pursue the spiritual discipline of giving thanks. If you are also a recovering grumbler or want to learn biblical gratitude, this book is a good place to start.

*Moody Publishers graciously gave me a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review*