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Deepak Reju is the editor of a new 31-day devotional series written by different biblical counselors. There are nine volumes so far, and I hope there will be many more. Megan Hill is an editor for The Gospel Coalition (TGC) and a regular contributor to Today in the Word, and she has written the series’ devotional on contentment. Who should read this? Just about any person living in the West (and probably the East too). In fact, all people long for things: food, clothing, protection, sleep, relationships, love, the good life.
She hits the nail on the head on Day One when she says,
I thought that coat would change everything. Red canvas, with large pockets and a brown corduroy collar, this coat was just what every student in my seventh-grade class wanted. I was absolutely sure that owning this coat would lead me into a new life. When I wore it, I would be popular, beautiful, talented. With a coat like that, people would invite me to take long autumn strolls down New England country roads or stand, smiling and radiant, in their immaculate horse barns. When I wore it, I would be a different person entirely. (15)
Sounds familiar? How many times have I thought some video game, bass guitar, bass amp, bass riff, getting a new book, going to Bible college, getting married, going to seminary, etc., would make everything just grand and glorious? And then a few weeks later I wake up and think, “That bass sounds funny. I paid too much for it,” or “Well, there’s the end of Bible College. Now what?” Marriage, kids, and jobs don’t fulfill the way we hope they would. People and things disappoint.
Hill goes on to write, “I still have the coat. It hangs in the back of a closet, and I haven’t worn it in the last twenty years. Needless to say, I can’t recall any significant change that happened to me because of the coat. I come across it occasionally… and I remember how I once thought it would finally give me the life I wanted” (15).
Hill writes in her introduction that at one point we’re worshiping God on a Sunday morning, and by Sunday afternoon were annoyed that it’s raining and the noisy kids have to be inside with us (I added the noisy kids part). We turn and look at all the things everyone has and wonder why God isn’t taking care of us in the same way? If he owns the cattle on a thousand hills, couldn’t he spare me a car and some more money? So we begin grumbling, “accusing God is mishandling our lives, and demanding that he give us what we want” (10).
Hill divides her devotional into six sections:
- The Value of Contentment (Days 1–3)
- Finding Contentment by Looking to Christ (Days 4–7)
- Cultivating a Right Understanding of My Circumstances (Days 8–12)
- Cultivating Right Desires (Days 13–18)
- Cultivating a Thankful Heart (Days 19–23)
- Pursuing Contentment to Specific Circumstances (Days 24–31)
I read The Little Engine That Could as a kid. I don’t remember much from it except that the engine eventually willpowered its way up the mountain. We don’t like to hear it, but God tells us we spiritually can’t do anything on our own. We were dead in sin (Eph 2:1-3), blind, ignorant rebels who were slaves to sin and Satan. Yet our merciful God reached down and saved us (Titus 3:5). Yet how do we often thank our merciful God? By spewing out bland grumbling obscenities on how bored we are with our unexciting lives. Yet by doing so we accuse God of acting wrongly in our lives. Because of that we don’t love him as we should (since we are not utterly thankful for him), and so we slide into self-justified sins (38).
We need to change our desires. Hill writes that “we don’t always desire the right things in the right way to the right degree” (45). We aren’t to refuse our desires, but change and shape our desires. God has ultimately changed our desires by giving us a new heart, putting us in the new covenant, and giving us his Holy Spirit. Comparing spiritual desires with our desire for food, Hill notes, “Just as changing our eating habits doesn’t mean we must stop ever being hungry, pursuing contentment doesn’t require us to avoid desire completely” (45).
Our highest desire is to love God (55), and he provides everything for us (63). We must make a habit of thanking God. He gives us more than our salvation but all things as well. Hill observes that “when our hearts are set on God’s purposes, we will always find those desires fulfilled” (65). This doesn’t mean that suddenly we think all things go well. There is still bereavement, singleness, loneliness, empty nests, angry words, boring jobs, wild children, insurance policies, and tax forms. But by seeing god’s overall plan and learning that we image him in all ways, we can see how we works through us to love others as a way of loving and serving him.
Each chapter ends with two reflections and a way to practice what you’ve read.
This was a great devotional on an important topic. Take her reflections seriously and read the Scripture she puts forth. Try even to memorize some of the daily Scriptures (use the Andy Davis method; perhaps I’ll write a post on this one day). To pick on the Americans, we like to exaggerate. Our jokes and stories are often told in a way to one-up the other person. We want things to be bigger and better than before. It’s funny with stories, but this creeps into how we think and live. We exaggerate our situation and think it is much worse than what it is. God is on our side, and he has given us so much. The hardships, whether they be boring, grueling, or riddled with anxiety, are there to grow us to be more like Christ.
- Series: 31-Day Devotionals for Life
- Author: Megan Hill
- Paperback: 96 pages
- Publisher: P & R Publishing (September 28, 2018)
- Read the first three days
- Other volumes I’ve reviewed
Buy it from Amazon or P & R Publishing!
Disclosure: I received this book free from P & R Publishing. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.