Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions
I’m talking again today about discontentment, a disease that affects millions of people.
Why is it that we are not content with life? What’s wrong that we desire so many things? The discontented man or woman looks at the world and says, “I deserve something better than this.”
Today’s world and culture shout at us that “enough is not good enough”, that we must have more and more. In fact, it’s almost like from the day we are born; we’re trained to be not content with our lot. In fact, unbelievable as it sounds, the more we have, the more discontent we become. Strange isn’t it? Why do we always think “the grass is always greener on the other side”?
The old saying is true: “As a rule, man’s a fool, when it’s hot, he wants it cool. And when it’s cool, he wants it hot! Always wanting what is not.”
I like what Max Lucado says in one of his books – “If your happiness comes from something you deposit, drive, drink or digest, then face it – you are in prison, the prison of want”. Are you always wanting one more thing? Do you think, “I will be happy when I am wealthy, when I am married, when I am rich”? When the new car smell fades and the neighbours get a bigger TV, the prison gets darker.
Lucado’s comments are very similar to C.S. Lewis, who said many years earlier, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” He meant that God has placed in our heart the need for Himself, just as St Augustine prayed, “God, you have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.”
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Failing to Thank God Creates Discontent
We are discontent because we have failed to thank God for so much He has given us. We want more than we should have. And if we don’t find answers, our inner discontent can result in sickness, anxiety, depression, or a case of the blues.
We may feel not fulfilled in life; relationships are not working out, a lousy job, stretched finances, or low self-esteem. What are we supposed to do? Rudyard Kipling was a great writer and poet, and his name is still recognised today. He made a lot of money and one day a newspaper reporter came up to him, saying: “Mr. Kipling, I just read that somebody calculated that the money you make from your writings amounts to over $100 a word”. (This was in the early 1900s, remember.) Mr. Kipling raised his eyebrows – “Really? I certainly wasn’t aware of that”. The reporter reached down into his pocket and pulled out $100. “Here’s a $100 bill, Mr. Kipling. Now, you give me one of your $100 words”. The gifted writer looked at the $100 bill for a moment, took it and folded it up and put it in his pocket and said, “Thanks.” That’s all – and he was right! The word “thanks” is certainly a $100 word. It’s more like a million dollar word, the one word that is very often forgotten, and we need to say thanks for what we already have every day. Then we may learn to be content.
The Bible has some great statements to help us, and none better than the words of Paul in Philippians 4: 11-13. “I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy, whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything with the help of Jesus”. Here was Paul, a follower of Jesus Christ, shackled in a prison cell, stating his view.
He was content because he knew God through Jesus as his friend and Saviour, and that was the most important consideration of all. In another part of the Bible (1 Timothy 6:6), God says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain”. You see, contentment is something we can learn if we practice it, and check our attitude.