Book review: Radical Gratitude

Radical Gratitude written by Peter Maiden

Book review by Steve Braithwaite

I’ve prayed and longed for answers to prayer many many times, for myself and others, friends and family, for those at home and abroad; for God to provide, deliver, rescue, heal.  The list is long.  However only rarely have answers to prayer been this tangible.

It was 16th July 2020, and I was holding an answer to prayer in my hands. The author, Peter Maiden, had some months previous, whilst beginning to write Radical Gratitude, been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  As he shared the news of his diagnosis he asked for prayer; one of his prayer requests was that God would give him the time he needed to finish writing Radical Gratitude.  We prayed along with many others around the world for Peter, and God, in His grace, granted Peter the time to finish writing. Radical Gratitude is quite literally an answer to prayer.

The subtitle is Recalibrating Your Heart in an Age of Entitlement. Selfishness and thinking that the world revolves around us are nothing new, but it does seem that we have taken the good things that we are given for granted to new heights.  Taking these good things for granted gives rise to an expectation that they will always be there, and before we know it we think we’re entitled to them.  This book is perfectly timed.

 

So why should you read this book? Three P’s:

It’s Personal.  Peter writes in his usual direct and accessible style.  It’s the same style with which he speaks, and so as you read you can easily imagine Peter speaking each sentence, paragraph and page.  Peter could have chosen to construct hypothetical situations or stories to make points, but he has largely avoided this.  Instead he brings his personal life experiences and people he knows firsthand to the fore;  he’s brave enough to reveal some of the mistakes he’s made and share what God has taught him.

It’s Practical. This is not a book siloed in theology (there is a place for these books by the way), nor does it hop, skip, and jump biblical truths in favour of application. Peter balances the basis and explanation of biblical principles with application very well.  The repeating pattern of the book I have sensed is: 

  • Peter shares a moment, experience, or life-chapter where he has stumbled and displayed entitlement or ingratitude.
  • He explains biblical truths, what God has given him (and us), and who we are in Christ.
  • He shares what God has shown and taught him through these times; how he has learned to show gratitude and be thankful, and what we can also learn and apply.
 

It’s Probing.  Where would you turn in the Bible to read and experience personal response and cries to God in difficult circumstances or times of blessing?  The Psalms would be a great place to start.  At the conclusion of each chapter Peter encourages us to turn to a particular Psalm (a different one each chapter) and to ask ourselves some questions.  Peter deliberately wants us to pause and reflect on the pitfalls, truths, and application, to read from God’s Word, and to take some time to probe our hearts and minds; to allow God to speak to us personally that we might become more Christlike.

 

How have I been challenged from reading Radical Gratitude?

Gratitude has to be a choice we make.  A discipline.  We must choose to be thankful and grateful for what God has given us because we’re in a spiritual battle.  Human sinful nature will nearly always default to grumbling about our circumstances, focussing on the problems.  We must be disciplined to regularly look at all that God has given us – and He has given us every good thing.

Peter writes:  “Without the gracious intervention of God, through His son, Jesus Christ, our only future would have been judgement – we now find ourselves blessed beyond words.  Surely there are a thousand more reasons for thanksgiving than for grumbling to complaint?”

Taking this a step further:  Through the discipline of gratitude, I can experience God’s contentment and peace, even in difficult times; by stopping in the moment to see what I’ve been given by God, by living today for Him.  If I look to what I don’t have or to what tomorrow might bring, if only I planned better or worked harder, then remaining in God’s peace and contentment will elude me.

As Peter says:  “Often Christ is made known, and we develop our relationship with Him, amid difficulty.  But when we know the end result, contentment and gratitude can be our experience, even when we’re still in the middle of a storm.”

Why is the gratitude Peter writes about so radical?  

Because it relies solely on the grace of God.

 

Should you read Radical Gratitude?

Absolutely.