Satisfied: Discovering Contentment in a World of Consumption is the second book by Jeff Manion, senior teaching pastor at Ada Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His first book, The Land Between, used the Israelite’s journey through the Sinai Desert as a metaphor for being in an undesired, yet potentially transformational, time of transition. During unexpected and undesired transition times like our ministry downsizing or vocation loss, contentment is a difficult, yet greatly desired, state of being. Pastor Manion offers his definition:
“Contentment is the cultivation of a satisfied heart. It is the discipline of being fully alive to God and to others whatever our material circumstances.”
Contentment, the author emphasizes, combats the downward drift of the heart. However, there are two major challenges to contentment. The first challenge is waiting for our situation to change. Gritting our teeth and attempting to endure is counterproductive. Contentment only comes as we embrace our situation with joy and thankfulness.
Comparison is the second major challenge to contentment. Pastor Manion states that comparison shifts our hearts from deep gratitude to subtle resentment not because we’ve received less than we deserve, but that others have received more than we think they deserve. We won’t follow a God we can’t trust- at least not for long. The key is understanding that God is with us when we are emptied and that He is enough.
Our hearts are satisfied when we remember that our identity if not anchored in what belongs to us, but in who we belong to. Since our identity is anchored in Christ, we don’t get our identity from our careers. Rather, we bring our identity to our careers. Knowing that we belong to Christ enables trust, not fear, to be the dominant force in our decision-making. As we find our hope in God, we will hear His voice inviting us to enter into joy. Jesus is knocking at our heart’s door. All we need to do is open it.