I would say most of you are accessing this blog post from a social media platform, most likely Facebook or Twitter. How many of you prior to opening this blog saw discontentment or dissatisfaction from others on your feed or timeline? Maybe the source of their discontent was targeted at a political leader, a not received stimulus check, or a deeper unmet expectation (like your favorite NFL team passing on Lynn Bowden in the draft!). I believe discontentment is one of the most dangerous emotions for Christians to face because it zaps the present joy we have in Christ.
Do not get me wrong, sometimes it is the most righteous act for Christians to be discontent because some things in life are worth feeling the disappointment over. For example, many of you are aware our Governor (Andy Beshear) vetoed Senate Bill 9 which would prohibit a person from denying or depriving a born-alive infant of nourishment with the intent to cause or allow the death of the infant. I was prayerfully hopeful that our Governor would pass this bill for the sake of human life, image-bearers of God, but deeply grieved when I heard that it was rejected. I was discontent about the situation as I know many of you were too.
However, I believe if we consider the amount of times we feel discontent, it is not about things that are of supreme importance like the value of human life in the fight to defeat abortion. When I look at my own life, and I believe it is true for you too, I struggle with discontentment most when I compare myself to others or do not get something that I thought I deserved. I begin thinking, “this should be me”, or “I could do this better than he can”, and so on. Christian, if we are not careful, discontentment can rob us of the very blessings that God has given us. When our eyes are so focused on what we do not have, we miss what we do have.
As I have prayerfully considered what might be the source of my motives, I have asked myself this question: “where does the discontentment in my heart come from?” I believe it comes from two main sources: lack of trust in God’s plan for my life and a failure to treasure Christ above all things. I want us to consider two passages of Scripture in Romans 8:28 and Philippians 3:7-8.
First, I believe discontentment is rooted in a lack of trust in God’s individual plan for our lives. As I stated above, I most often feel the temptation to be discontent when I believe that my life should look differently than it currently does; because after comparing myself to others I believe I should be where they are. In doing this I am displaying to God distrust in His plan for my life and a lack of gratitude for the things God has already graciously given me. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Paul tells us that for those who are in Christ by faith, all things (good and bad) will ultimately work together for good.
The problem for many of us is our version of good is not what God has in mind. We like immediate pleasure and satisfaction. We want God to unveil the plan He has for us and all the blessings for our lives now. But in reality, the greatest treasures of God’s grace is found in the waiting and trusting for His plan to unfold. Rather than looking to others and envying what God is doing in their life, trust God’s plan for your life. Remember, all things work together for good not for our purposes, but for His.
God’s idea of “good” for our lives is not always health, wealth, and fulfilling our desires; though God does mercifully meet our needs. Our ultimate need and His greatest gift is giving us the grace to become more like His Son Jesus. If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you can confidently know that God is working providentially in your life and that nothing is taking place by mere chance. God is working things in your life for your good and it is to fulfill His purpose of molding you into the image of His Son and making Him known. Trusting God means believing He, and His plan for your life, is good even when your circumstances are not.
Second, I believe discontentment is rooted in a failure to treasure Christ above all things. Philippians 3:7-8 says, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Paul is not only displaying the heart of true discipleship, but he is also showing us the key to genuine contentment.
For example, I can hold too dearly to material things. There are few things that get me as excited than walking to my mail box for that highly anticipated Amazon package. We all like stuff. However, if “things” are at the center of our purpose and joy we will be inevitably let down. What is new today will become old tomorrow. I often think of my iPhone. I have no idea what version it is but when I purchased the phone it was the latest and greatest available. Now, Verizon is telling me I can upgrade for a penny. See what I am saying? When our heart is set on earthly things contentment is unattainable because nothing in this world can satisfy us permanently, we always have to do “upgrades”.
But when we look to Christ, we see the One who never needs to be replaced with something better. This is why Paul viewed everything else in his life as a loss in comparison to the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (3:8a). Power, prestige, status, and possessions are all considered as rubbish (literally meaning trash) in order that he might gain Christ (3:8b). The lesson for us here is that when we treasure things above Jesus and growing in Him, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Because when what we treasured fails us we ourselves will fall into despair. But if we treasure Christ above all things, the One who is always faithful, we experience a contentment that goes beyond our circumstances.
In closing, this week I had found myself feeling discontentment. By God’s grace, the Spirit helped redirect my eyes and heart back toward Christ and away from comparing myself to others and finding my purpose in stuff. If you are struggling with finding peace and contentment in your life today, my prayer is that you too look to Him to fill the longing of your heart. Only once we discover that Christ is truly worth losing all things for, then we will be able to truly find contentment in an discontent world.