Contentment

23 Apr

Is it too much to ask for matching sheets?!

All I want is FIVE minutes to myself, without interruption.

I’d be happy with two vacations a year, that’s all!

I want just one night of uninterrupted sleep.

I wish my house was just a bit bigger so I could have more space to entertain.

If I were married and had children, I’d be able to serve the Lord much better.

Maybe you can relate to these thoughts? I don’t know why, but somehow in my attempts to be “eclectic” I always try to find different sheets, bedspreads, etc., thinking that I’ll come up with a unique combo and I fail. My room looks like I rummaged through three different eras to find what people were sleeping on and came up with some sort of mismatched combo of unsightly bed linens. Right about now you’re probably thinking, what does this have to do with contentment? Or my life in general? Stick with me! Well last week, I was cleaning my house and making my bed, to once again realize that my sheets don’t match. I decided that all I needed to do to feel better about this domestic failure was to head out to the mall, spend $100.00 and pick up a good, decent, eye-pleasing combo. Then, surely I’d feel better! Then, surely when people come over and glance in my room, they’ll think “How beautiful!”. Yes. This is what I thought. I don’t always think this much about sheets (I promise). I usually think about normal things like how much better of a mood I’d be in if I’d slept through the night, or how all I want is for my daughter to not throw her pancakes on the floor and finally learn to obey my directions in that regard! Sometimes I think of other normal things like how nice it would be if my whole house was new with no problems. The list goes on.

If we could reassess each day and think about the thoughts that pass through our heads, I bet we’d find that a lot of them centre on things we wish we had that we don’t. Whether it be something material, relational, or spiritual, a lot of time is spent thinking and talking about things we want to possess that aren’t in our grasp. Then we spend even more time planning ways we can get the thing that we want. Or we spend time upset about not being able to have it. Or we feel pity on ourselves that everyone else has it and we don’t. Maybe we’re looking to find contentment in things that are blatantly sinful, like pornography, drugs, or getting drunk. Whatever it is, there are numerous ways in which our minds tend to be drawn to seeking after something that we want to obtain.

I’m not talking about our need to find ways that we can improve, to set goals for ourselves, or the desire we have to want good things like obedience from our children, a clean house, or the ability to get up earlier and spend more time with the Lord. Even wanting things like a new pair of shoes or any other number of desires are things that are not bad or wrong in and of themselves. The issue is a one of contentment and idolatry. What are we looking to for satisfaction? Do we believe that if we only had ___ we’d be happy today? Or if ___  just changed, life would be better? If so, then we’re believing in a lie. None of these things will ever be able to satisfy us. Not only will they not be able to satisfy, but if they go unchecked, and continue to fester and take control over our hearts, we are building up little idols (or big ones), that are becoming a form of worship to us. We are seeking to find contentment by appealing to our desires and putting our efforts and into fulfilling them. Sure, a new pair of shoes feels great, and so does a clean house, but neither will bring lasting contentment. We were made to find fulfilment for our longings, but if we are looking down these bottomless wells, we are going to keep coming up dry. The good news is that there is one well we can go to to find satisfaction from, and it will never empty up.

Isaiah 55:1-2

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend your money on that which is not bread, and your labour on that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.”

We need to eat and be filled. But every meal we take in is just a reminder that the last one wasn’t enough. And we’re still going to have to have another one in a few hours! If this isn’t a metaphor for our need to be filled, then I don’t know what is. In this passage in Isaiah, the prophet is speaking God’s word to the people of Israel. We read here the reality that exists for us all. Our money, our labours will come up as empty pursuits if in the end, all we are doing is looking for things other than God to satisfy us. What do I mean when I say that God satisfies us? It means that we can find real contentment in knowing him, through his word, and being in a right relationship to him because of the Gospel. And what kind of a deal are we getting here? Can you believe that it says that we don’t need money, and we don’t need to work to be satisfied? What is that! That is completely against the grain of our natural inclinations. We all live in a world where things operate based on the amount of money we have, and how hard we can work to get what we want. But God is offering us some kind of underserved grace in this passage. He says that we don’t have to have a cent to our name to find and eat what is good, to delight ourselves in rich food. Only, we must listen diligently to Him, and stop spending our hearts on things that won’t satisfy.

Ask yourself, what have I been discontent about lately? Are there ways that I am looking to fulfill myself on what won’t satisfy? Maybe take some time today before the Lord and just start by asking for forgiveness for believing that __ will be better than Him. Ask him for grace to be content in whatever situation you find yourself in. If the apostle Paul had any reason to complain after multiple beatings, imprisonment, and hardship, he didn’t. He had found the secret to contentment (and I don’t mean “The Secret”). He said “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in ever 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 Christ who strengthens me.”- Philippians 4:11-13 His contentment was found in Christ, who strengthened and fulfilled him. God give us the grace to show the world the same thing- that our longings are not in things that can be bought with money, and our hearts and not set on things below but on those above.

Now, if only I had bought an alphabet set that had names of animals I could pronounce, I’d be happy 😉

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One Response to “Contentment”

  1. Georgie April 23, 2012 at 7:57 PM #

    I never thought about Isaiah 55 in light of our discontentment…thanks for that insight.
    And where on earth did you find that alphabet set?? A xantus?

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