When I read the Puritans, I often feel completely in their debt, but part of me is also envious of their lives. They always seem so…fine. Nothing ever throws them. Life never seems “messy” on their pages. It feels like a disconnect at times to read Samuel Rutherford in 21st century America. Erik Raymond says the reason for this is the chasm that exists between the contentment of the Puritans and the discontentment of our age today. The words “restless, unhappy, unsatisfied, and curious” (22) so brilliantly define the heartbeat of today’s world.
How do we get out of the rut of discontentment? It’s not so simple to assert to ourselves, “just be content.” There has to be work done, contentment that flows from the heart out to our experience. And in order to transform into contentedness, we have, to begin with where contentment comes from.
It is this task that Erik Raymond seeks to undertake in Chasing Contentment. Serving as a 21st-century primer on the same theology of Jeremiah Burroughs’ The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Raymond seeks to help us not only re-define what contentment is but how to apply it truly to our hearts and minds and lives.
Raymond’s flow of argument is fairly straightforward but really powerful for a Christian currently hoping to improve in contentedness. He starts with the definition of God, the source of all contentment. The “Learning” portion of the book is much longer but very important. In order to better understand and rest in contentment, Raymond argues, we must understand our sin, we must view this as a slow work (cultivated through the spiritual disciplines), fighting the enemies of the devil and the flesh, and remembering God’s providence and coming again. These are broad brushstrokes of these concepts, but Raymond helps the Christian consider these themes at a deep and powerful level, even including questions at the end of each chapter for further reflection and discussion.
Chasing Contentment, in my opinion, should be a springboard toward other works of the Puritans (they’re just that good), but it’s also an excellent starting point for Christians who so desire for their hearts to no longer be restless but find their rest in God. I am grateful for Raymond’s work and look forward to seeing how it impacts others to whom I will recommend it.