As I reflected upon this month’s theme of contentment, I was reminded about one of last week’s meditations in the Abide app (designed to help people experience the peace of Christ through Biblical meditation and guided prayer).
The verse for the day was Psalm 37:4 which says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” It’s a familiar verse, but I was floored when the host flipped it and asked a question for reflection and confession: Is there something for which you are not delighting in the Lord?
I had never thought of it like that. There were actually quite a few things breeding discontent at that moment, and I was convicted.
Upon reflection, I’ve come to believe that delight and content are related: We are only able to take delight in the Lord when we are content.
So, what is contentment? What are the similarities and differences between people who are content and those who are not? Do they have anything in common? Is there a pattern?
Some would assume the line between content and discontent would fall upon economic lines or age differentials or any number of sociological variables. But it doesn’t.
The fact is, you’re just as likely to find a content minority woman living in poverty as you are a discontent rich, white man living in Beverly Hills.
We all know it’s true, and yet somehow, we still mistakenly assume contentedness is a byproduct of achievement, economic success, and maybe even luck. For example, we are shocked to learn that someone who was well-off financially, fabulously famous, and adored by fans all over the world was so discontent with his life that he did the unthinkable. Yet, we are inspired to learn that someone who had absolutely no financial means, who was known only to her family and friends was so content in her life that she impacted many for good.
So, how does one gain contentment? What are the five steps to contentment that I should take so I can get on with living my content little life?
What if I told you contentment is nothing that can be achieved. Instead, it is the product of mature faith and deep trust. In other words, contentment has nothing to do with externals and everything to do with God’s sovereignty.
A measure of trust
Contentment grows in proportion to trust. The more you trust God, the more content you become. The less you trust Him, the more discontent you are.
Put another way, your level of discontent betrays your mistrust of the Lord.
Let that sink in for a moment: discontent = mistrust. Phew!
What this means is that our discontent is a sign not to blame or shame, but to take a fresh look at our relationship with the Lord. Do we trust Him or not?
Contentedness is directly connected to your confidence that God is who He says He is and that He can and will do what He says He will do. Period.
For example, the discontent person will compare her situation with another’s focusing on differences always striving to measure up. The content person will notice the same differences and celebrate them wholeheartedly.
The discontent person will covet another’s possessions always striving for more things; whereas, the content person cherishes what she has because she knows from whom it came.
The discontent person will focus on what other people think always striving to please people with a resentful “yes” or frustrated “no,” but the content person communicates healthy boundaries with complete freedom to say yes and no because her contentment comes from being who God created her to be.
Are the differences really that clear cut? I say, “Yes!” Yes, they are.
This is great news for us, because if we pay attention to our thoughts, we can heed the early warning signs of discontent.
When we focus on what we don’t have, didn’t receive, can’t have or can’t acquire, we are discontent. And discontentment robs us of God’s most precious gift: peace.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27
Ironically, discontentment alerts us that there’s a problem while pointing us towards the solution. When we recognize the seeds of discontent beginning to sprout (or maybe they’ve taken root), all we have to do is turn our hearts heavenward.
When we remind ourselves that God is in control, that He knows what we need better than we do, and when we confess our discontent to Him, He is faithful to forgive and bring peace and contentment as only He can.
When we cry out to God to meet our deepest needs and sincerely place our trust in His plan/timing/purpose, He will fill us with His peace, and we will be content. You can count on Him. Always.