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We’re all searching for contentment. Whether it’s in relationships, families, jobs, finances, or something else entirely, we all want to be happy and fulfilled. And yet, all too often we find ourselves disappointed with what God has given us. But the apostle Paul says that he learned the “secret” of being content in any and every situation. Is this level of contentment possible for believers today?
In this immensely practical book, Erik Raymond teaches us what contentment is (the inward gracious spirit that joyfully rests in God’s providence) and how we can learn it through the same Holy Spirit who was in Paul. Wisely and winsomely, this book helps us discover the key to contentment, encouraging us to trust in God rather than our circumstances—no matter what life brings our way.
I've been really looking forward to reading this little book about contentment from Erik Raymond. As Raymond rightly points out in the opening chapter, contentment is not a topic that's much talked about today amongst Christians. Which is baffling, because if anything we live in a dark age of discontent: bombarded by consumerist messages that urge us to buy this or buy that to make our lives better; constant social media comparisons that either produce pride or crush us; and the ever present backdrop of grumbling that says that the grass is always greener on the other side. The problem is that I find myself rather discontent with this little book about contentment. There are some real gems in here about God's contentment in himself, being confident in God's good providence, and longing for the New Creation where we will experience perfect contentment. But the bulk of Chasing Contentment is rather disappointing and mediocre. Like bad sermon application everywhere, Raymond suggests (over the course of two whole chapters!), that we should read our Bibles more, pray more, and be committed to a local church. These are great things for us to do as Christians, and in fact, apply to most areas of Christian life and not to contentedness specifically. Raymond relies a lot on older Puritan writers but rather than update their language and thinking for today, he tends to just quote them at length which won't aid the average reader in understanding them any better than reading the source material. And then there is the toe-curling moment, when Raymond describes how his wife was discontent with not having granite work tops in her kitchen... Yup. He uses such terrible stereotypes as an off-hand illustration, that belittles his wife, and makes women seem particularly gullible. The thrust of the book is good, there is Biblical wisdom in here, but there's not enough to recommend this as a must-read book. Discontent is a besetting sin for Christians, particularly in the West. We need some good, practical, modern writing and teaching on the subject. Chasing Contentment does not fill that gap, I really wish it did.
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