A Rare Jewel
Discontentment marks our era of history in so many deeply profound ways. The young teenager constantly looks over at his friends to see if he is keeping up. A young mom glances at social media swiping through the pictures of her friends’ “perfect children.” Men wrestle with enjoying the moment because of a ceaseless compulsion to reach the next stage of their careers. Singles struggle with finding joy in Christ even as newlyweds have an anxious stir in their hearts until the children come. Life is always filled with “the next season” which shall have its own twists, turns, successes, bumps, and bruises along the way. The key to going through this path of life is to learn to be content as we take each step day by day.
There is nothing wrong with eagerly anticipating something coming around the future. A pregnant mother is certainly expected to look forward to the birth of her child, that is natural and healthy. However, there is a vital distinction between that sort of healthy anticipation and discontentment. Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary defined discontentment in this way:
“Want of content; uneasiness or inquietude of mind; dissatisfaction at any present state of things.”1
Notice the keywording at the end mentioning the “present state of things.” A person can realize their need to grow in vital ways such as in their job performance and pursue that in a healthy manner. However, a discontent individual hinges their satisfaction on their circumstances. That reality means they will have a restless soul until something in the situation around them changes never finding the ability to rest content even in the midst of great difficulty. Indeed, this attitude rages everywhere, while a person content in every situation is a rare find.
The Biblical Path
Here we are now at the crossroads, will you and I find our souls content each day or shall we hinge them upon what goes on around us? As we begin to explore the Word of God we see the calling upon us as believers:
“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:10-13
As Paul pens this letter he is sitting imprisoned for his faith (Philippians 1:13). He is expressing his gratefulness to the Philippian church for the gift they have sent to him. However, he takes the opportunity to write about contentment and walking with the Lord regardless of the circumstance. Notice that he specifically mentions he can be content no matter what situation he is in at the moment and no matter what circumstance. It is through Christ he is strengthened to this ability to have his soul at rest in this way. Paul’s contentment was not dependent upon what was happening in his life or the external events outside of his control. Rather, he was grounded in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ trusting in His power each day.
This reality brings us to an important point. The key to contentment is not found in changing the circumstances but rather it is found by trusting in the God who is over the situation. He is our rock and unmovable foundation. Our joy and delight must be anchored in Him. As we mature in this way we shall find an unimaginable truth. Whether it is a difficult time or a season of relative ease the Lord shall always be with us and will never leave us. A joy and peace which surpass all understanding will surround us even during the darkest days (Philippians 4:7). Our goal is to have our gaze upon the Lord being fully satisfied in Him. That brings contentment to our souls as we go through each stage of life. It helps us to see the Lord’s hand bringing good whether we be on the highest peak or the lowest valley.
Applying The Lesson
It is quite easy for us to talk about being content and focusing on the Lord, still another to actually practice these truths. How then can we have our souls satisfied in Christ? We must pursue Him in His Word as our minds are transformed by the power of His Spirit. Daily it is vital that we center ourselves in Christ by reading the Scripture. Our souls need to be reminded of His grace in the Gospel. Each heart needs to be prompted to worship Him and bow before Him in prayer focusing on His glory. It is vital that we gather around with other faithful believers to encourage each other in the Lord. We all need the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.
My point is that the path to contentment is found by simply resting in Christ each day. It is not to be found by doing the extraordinary things of life, but by the seemingly small points. Pulling up a chair for Bible study and coffee seems so slight an action, yet it is something that changes not only you but perhaps generations of your family. Let us then be people who are content day by day to rest in the grace of our Savior as we seek to know Him. Even as we look forward with eagerness to each stage of life, we must never forget that our contentment is not found by reaching the next mountain. Instead, it is enjoying Christ who has already planned our journey from start to end including the step we are currently taking. Let us rejoice in Him as we live the honor of His name!