If Contentment Feels Elusive, Read This Book

Chasing Contentment is a wonderful new book to recommend to those who are new to the Christian faith as well as to any Christian who struggles with discontentment.

Raymond defines contentment as “the inward, gracious, quiet spirit that joyfully rests in God’s providence” (23). The first half of this definition is uncontroversial. After all, who wants an obnoxious, spiteful, loud spirit? But the second half is much harder. Raymond explains that a truly contented spirit rests in the overruling providence of God. This can be exceedingly difficult when it is God’s providential will for us to suffer and endure difficult times.

 

Picking up a book on contentment is dangerous for me, because it exposes the discontentment clinging to my heart. As an apparent glutton for conviction, I collect books and even teach a Bible study on the topic. After all this time I should be the most contented person I know. Instead, I only grew more discontent with my discontentment. What’s my problem?

Enter Erik Raymond—pastor of Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Nebraska—and his new book, Chasing Contentment: Trusting God in a Discontented Age. In it, he offers biblical direction for understanding true contentment.

Raymond defines contentment as “the inward, gracious, quiet spirit that joyfully rests in God’s providence” (23). The first half of this definition is uncontroversial. After all, who wants an obnoxious, spiteful, loud spirit? But the second half is much harder. Raymond explains that a truly contented spirit rests in the overruling providence of God. This can be exceedingly difficult when it is God’s providential will for us to suffer and endure difficult times.

The Bible’s teaching on God’s providence—that he ordains everything that comes to pass—is difficult to grasp and even harder to swallow when life is hard. But we must embrace it if we want to know contentment. This difficulty, Raymond reminds us, is as old as the Garden of Eden. Our first parents didn’t believe God had their best interests at heart, so they became discontented with their lot and strayed from a life of trusting obedience. Our task is to avoid their error, believing God is always working for our good, no matter our circumstances.

Unique Book

After introducing a God-centered vision for contentment, Raymond demonstrates how biblical contentment is best viewed not only points us to Jesus but also puts the wind at our backs by walking us through key dimensions of the Christian life. He explores the gravity of sin and the mercy of Christ (ch. 3–4); he instructs how to read Scripture and pray with purpose (ch. 4); he warns us to recognize and fight temptation (ch. 5); and he shows how embracing our daily need for Christ can bring about “an explosion of happiness in the soul” (107).