A feeling of contentment is something we all desire, but sometimes seems impossible to find. We all have to learn to be content in our circumstances. And just when we think we’ve figured it out, life throws a curve ball that brings the discontentment once again.
Most people equate being discontent with a love of money or possessions, and with never truly finding satisfaction in what you have. While this can be true, we can also find ourselves feeling discontent in so many different areas in our lives. We might be unhappy in our careers, with our employers, in our marriages, or in friendships. We might resent where we live, who our neighbors are, or the families we were born into. There are so many facets of life that can breed discontentment if we are not careful.
So, what’s the secret? How do you live a contented life?
Contentment Trick #1 – Root Out Sin
The number one cause of discontentment in life is sin. There is no other way to look at it. Being unhappy with what God has given you, or where He has placed you, is sin. Being so focused on something, anything, other than God, is sin.
There is only One who can fill the void you are feeling. When we try and fill it on our own, we are opening our hearts up to a world of unrest. Sin is self-destructive. It is not healing, it is not nourishing, it is not peaceful.
A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7b-8
Sin is anything that comes between you and God. ANYTHING. If you place more importance and priority on your job, that is sin. If you place more importance and priority on your family, that is sin. Your family and your job are absolutely important, and they should be your priorities, but just not higher than God. These things cannot fill the void that He can. They did not create you like He did. And they did not love you before the dawning of time like did, and still does.
Deal with It
If you are looking for something else to make you happy, if you are fixating on something in your life that is not to your standards or expectations, then you might have a sin problem that needs to be dealt with. Identify it, confess it to the Lord, and repent (or walk away) from it.
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
If you think I am crazy, and that you do not have this issue, I strongly urge you to reconsider. Placing our own desires and ideals before God happens to us all. Every one of us allows something, or someone, to get in the way of our relationship with our Maker at some point. No one is perfect, we all fail…every day. We all need to be honest with ourselves, confess, and repent…every day.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9
Contentment Trick #2 – Draw Closer to God
If you could sit inside a physical manifestation of peace, would you? Isn’t that what everyone is trying to obtain with meditation and mindfulness? What if I told you that God IS peace? He IS contentment. We don’t need to find this manifestation; we already have it.
The more we seek Him, the closer we become to Him. And the closer we become to Him, the more His peace will extend over us.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
When our hearts and minds are fixed on who God is, and the desire of our hearts is to know Him more, we begin to trust in the goodness that He exudes. And when we begin to trust that He is good, we find contentment in what we’ve been given, or where we’ve been placed, that it is for our good and for the good of those around us.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3
When we draw closer to God, we not only begin to find contentment in what we’ve been given, we begin to desire the things that God desires, bringing us full circle in finding our new desires fulfilled. And there is definitely contentment in that.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6
Contentment Trick #3 – Make a Change
One of my pet peeves is grumbling for the sake of grumbling. It’s just not something I understand. If you are unhappy, or discontent, in your situation – MAKE A CHANGE.
From my perspective, there are two ways this can be done:
This may, or may not, be an option for you. Sometimes we really are just stuck in a situation that is less than ideal. But sometimes, we are not. If you really hate your job, and there are other employment options in the area that you are qualified for, maybe take the leap (with the Lord’s guidance, of course).
Obviously, this is easier said than done. It really is a less stressful thing to just sit back and grumble, but if it’s possible, it might be a choice worth considering.
If a physical change just really isn’t an option, or if you feel that the Lord is not leading you toward making that kind of a change, you may need to reevaluate your heart in the situation.
What are you fixating on that is making you so discontent? Is it a person? Maybe you should start praying for compassion and understanding in your heart for them. Is it a position at work, or a place of employment? Maybe you need to pray for opportunities to serve the Lord in those areas.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26
Instead of waiting impatiently for your circumstances to change, begin looking for reasons that God might have you there. Is it to learn and grow? Could it be to serve Him and reach someone in His name? Maybe it is to sit back and see Him clearly.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
A Contented Life is a Choice
Ultimately, a contented life is a choice. To put it bluntly, if you are feeling a strong sense of discontentment in your life, there is a good chance it is your own fault.
We have a choice to deal with our sin,
we have a choice to draw closer to God,
and we have a choice to make a change.
It is no one’s responsibility but your own.
Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12 (NKJV)
The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. God wants to be with you every step of the way. He wants you to lean on Him, and He wants you to count on His strength on the journey.
All you need to do is ask.
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11b-13