Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Once there was a lonely man who wanted a pet—one that would not require a great deal of care. He merely wanted something to come home to in the evening, something to keep him company.
He went to a pet store and explained his need to the proprietor. The pet store owner said that he had just the thing the man was looking for: a canary ‘guaranteed to sing’. The man agreed that it seemed like the perfect choice, bought the canary and took it home. The next day the lonely man hurried home from work and, as he entered his house, was overwhelmed by the sound of beautiful music coming from the canary.
He was very pleased and proceeded to feed the bird as he listened to its wonderful sound. But when he opened the cage he discovered that the canary had only one leg. One leg! This irritated him. He felt cheated! And so he packed up the cage and returned to the pet store. “You sold me a canary with only one leg,” he complained to the proprietor. To which the store owner replied, “Well what did you want, a singer or a dancer?”
Some people are never satisfied
We’re never satisfied—some of us. It’s one of the signs of the times. We’re given a singer, but we’re not satisfied. We want a dancer. We’re given a child with his or her own unique personality, but we’re not satisfied—and we proceed to try to conform him or her to our own. We’re given a good body, but we’re not satisfied—and we proceed to destroy it with overindulgence.
We’re given a beautiful world, but we’re not satisfied—and we proceed to exploit it and make it ugly. We’re given gifts that are uniquely ours, but we’re not satisfied—and we feel cheated and long for the gifts that others possess. The ‘never satisfied’ person is often a destructive influence, a source of needless anxiety, tension and unhappiness, not only in his or her own life but also in the life of others.
Some people are never happy. A grandmother was with her grandson playing in the water. She is standing on the beach not wanting to get her feet wet, when all of a sudden, a huge wave appears from nowhere and crashes directly over the spot where the boy is wading. The water recedes and the boy is no longer there. He simply vanished.
She holds her hands to the sky, screams and cries, “Lord, how could you? Have I not been a wonderful mother and grandmother? Have I not given to the church every week? Have I not tried my very best to live a life that you would be proud of?”
A few minutes later another huge wave appears out of nowhere and crashes on the beach. As the water recedes, the boy is standing there, smiling, splashing around as if nothing had ever happened. A loud voice booms from the sky, “Okay, okay, I have returned your grandson. Are you satisfied?” And she says, “Where is the hat he had on his head?”
Learning to be content
Ed Welch’s book When People are Big and God is Small has a great statement about never being satisfied:
Marriage has been a privilege and blessing to me. It has also been the context for a surprising discovery. I found that being okay in Christ was not enough for me. When I was first married, I knew that Jesus loved me, but I also wanted my new wife to be absolutely, forever smitten with me. I needed love from her. I could handle small amounts of rejection from other people but I felt paralysed if I didn’t have the love I needed from her. If she didn’t think I was a great husband, I would be crushed (and, as you might guess, a little angry).
This led to a second awakening. I suddenly realized that I mutated into a walking love tank, a person who was empty on the inside and looking for a person to fill me. My bride was, indeed, gifted in being able to love, but no one could have possibly filled me. I think I was a love tank with a leak.
Since those days I have spoken with hundreds of people who end up at this same place: they are fairly sure that God loves them, but they also want or need love from other people—or at least they need something from other people. As a result, they are in bondage, controlled by others and feeling empty. They are controlled by whomever or whatever they believe can give them what they think they need.
It was the Apostle Paul who learned the true lesson of being content and satisfied with his lot in life. In Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV) he wrote these amazing words:
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.