Contentment is the second installment for the On-the-Go Devotionals Series by Lydia Brownback. Small, concise, and thought-provoking, these on-the-go devotionals confront discontentment, frustration, and unhappiness, the attitudes and feelings all women experience at one time or another, perhaps daily. “Unhappiness does not spring from what we lack. It springs from our desire for what we lack,” Brownback writes. I have tried to convince myself at times that while I may not be happy about a situation, I can be content. After all, I have been told time and time again that being a Christian isn’t about being happy. What Brownback would have me understand is that contentment is biblical happiness, for “happiness, or contentment, comes from where we look and what we believe, not from what we have.”
Happiness is something we all want. In America, it is elevated to a birthright. Most people believe that if they just change this or have that, they will be happy. We may be discontent with any number of things, our circumstances, our abilities, our level of prosperity, to name a few. Brownback addresses several avenues in which women seek to find contentment: marriage, children, career, food, pornography, alcohol, sex, television. We go about it in different ways, but we all eventually come to the same realization: This isn’t satisfying me; I’m still discontent and unhappy. Brownback explains this is because we have sought happiness in an idol. Brownback’s devotionals are written to help women confront idolatry in its various manifestations and to inspire women to place every ounce of their hope in Christ. God has designed us to find happiness, joy, and our deepest delight in Him. He loves us so much that we won’t be content until we learn to find it in Him alone.
Our circumstances change; good times come and go. But God never changes. He promises to never forsake His children. Brownback writes that all we have is right now. Whether we find ourselves in plenty or in hunger, God has promised to provide all we need for right now because He offers us Himself. Brownback writes, “Whatever we’re longing for but lack is an area in which God will reveal himself to be adequate for us.” As we learn to apply this truth and fellowship with Christ, Biblical happiness can be realized. “Reduced to its simplest equation, holiness equals happiness. Godliness, or holiness, is what we have been designed for, and if we are believers, it is our destiny. We are being conformed to Christ, who is himself perfect holiness. Therefore, the more like Christ we become, the holier we become, and we find ourselves increasingly happy.”
As in Trust, the first on-the-go book, Brownback uses several people from scripture as positive and negative examples of biblical contentment. The most insightful negative example for me is her use of the Israelites roaming through the wilderness. Their circumstances skewed their perspective of their past. Rather than believe God, they believed “the lie of nostalgia.” I also appreciated her use of Paul as an example of how to learn contentment in any circumstance and how to experience God’s sufficient grace in Christ Jesus. “Holding that perspective is what enables Paul to be utterly content with mere food and clothing, and it is why he said that the same happiness is available for all believers. Happiness, not the fleeting kind — the occasional good day — but the bound-out-of-bed-glad-to-be-alive kind, comes from running toward where God is ultimately taking us. The real source of all our unhappiness is due to the fact that we are running elsewhere. If we would just run in the right direction — toward Christ and his ways, toward the kingdom of God — we would find the happiness we are so desperately seeking, because that is the only place where it is to be found.”
I am not sure I can express how helpful this devotional is proving to be to me. I have read it twice and plan to start again tomorrow. It is not so much that what Brownback has written is “new” to me. Most of what she’s written, I knew already from a much longer book. But I need to be reminded every single day that not only is Jesus the means to my happiness, He is the end. He is everything. Brownback’s little paperback is an excellent tool for helping me remember that “God is most glorified in me, when I am most satisfied in Him.” I very happily recommend this book to you.