A Vaccine for Discontentment

Last week, I was on vacation at the beach enjoying one of my favorite activities. As I was riding my bike along the nice flat roads watching the beautiful scenery pass by, I thought to myself, this is a gift from God.

However, near the end of my ride, my attitude of gratefulness for the beauty I was experiencing was soured by a thought. My mind began to delve into the idea of upgrading my bike or even getting a new one and how much better it would be if I did. Instead of enjoying what I had, I began to focus on what I didn’t.

If you want to be discontent with life, focus on what you don’t have yet. I am not talking about dreaming about what could be in the future. God has created each one of us uniquely for a purpose and calls us to be ambitious towards that purpose. The discontentment I am talking about usually starts with the word wish. I wish I had… I wish my job would… I wish my spouse was more…., etc.

All of us have moments where we think about how life could be better. Letting them go from a fleeting thought to a point of focus takes us down the wrong road. The apostle Paul tells us there is a vaccine for discontentment. He was sitting in jail, chained 18 inches away from a Roman guard, and didn’t know when he would get out. Yet, he wrote these words: “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.” (Philippians 4:11b-12)

What was his secret? He doesn’t spell it out in his letter here but earlier he makes it clear. He writes in Philippians 3:8, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

Jesus was everything to Paul. He knew that if he had Christ and the life that comes through him, everything else he had was the icing on the cake. Author J.I. Packer mirrors this thought when he says, “Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord.”

Once you ‘know God’, it doesn’t mean the stars will align, and out of nowhere all of your hopes and dreams come true.  The divine presence is what we long for deep in our souls and being in a relationship with Jesus will begin to quell lesser desires. When you feel like you are becoming discontent, remind yourself of the blessings of knowing God and what he has given you. You’ll realize the list is longer than you can imagine and it will change your mindset.
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