Good devotionals are hard to come by. Most of the time devotional type literature tends to be fluffy, lacking expositional depth and meaningful doctrine. The 31 Day Devotionals for Life series, however, is robust and deeply theological. Case in point is Megan Hill’s volume on Contentment. Hill does a great job of connecting our struggle with contentment to our struggles with God, showing us that contentment is rooted in our “seeing God’s goodness.”
Contentment has a lot to do with our understanding and acceptance of the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. To the degree that we are discontent it is because we do not trust God’s control, or more pointedly the goodness behind that control. Learning contentment means, according to Hill, learning to “rest…in God’s sovereignty over the circumstances of our lives” (10). The more we can accept all that we have comes from God’s hand, the more content we can be.
The book breaks up the 31 days of study across six sections. Each explores a particular piece to the contentment puzzle. So, days 1-3 focus on the value of contentment. Days 4-7 explore contentment through the example of Christ. Days 8-12 help us to understand our circumstances rightly in light of God. Days 13-18 aim to help us cultivate right desires. Days 19-23 focus on cultivating a thankful heart. Days 24-31 explore very specific contexts where contentment is hard, like the ares of finances or health for example.
The book aims to be very practical. So, each day starts with a Scripture passage which serves as the basis for the reflection and mediation Hill writes. Then the day concludes with several reflection questions, and action steps. There is interest in not simply giving us some reflections on the Scripture but helping us to know what to do with the knowledge we glean. In the words of series editor Deepak Reju:
Our study of Scripture is practical. Theology should change how we live. (7)
Hill lives up to that expectation in this volume, providing readers lots of opportunity for both self-evaluation and the practice of cultivating contentment.
If you had asked me, prior to this volume, if I had trouble with contentment I would have given you, I am sure, a generic answer: of course, don’t we all. I knew that I had season of discontentment and dissatisfaction, but I wouldn’t have characterized myself as someone who was discontent. Through the first several days I felt justified in that position and even thought about stopping the study, but very quickly I began to see just how deep the roots of discontentment went in my heart. Hill helped me see how often I focus on myself, how frequently I ground my joy in circumstances, and how frustrated I get with God when things don’t go my way. The devotional served to give me fresh eyes to evaluate myself, and to evaluate myself in light of Scripture. With each day, however, she also gave me opportunities to work on specific areas of improvement. Needless to say, I have found this resource of great personal help.
The 31 Day Devotionals for Life series is a great resource for personal study, small group discussions, and one-on-one counseling. Hill’s volume on Contentment should get lots of circulation, it is well worth reading. I know I will be using it in my own personal spiritual growth again, and I am sure I will use it in counseling situations for years to come.