4 Ways to Fight Discontentment
Have you ever thought or said to yourself, "If only..."?
- "If only I had $10,000 more dollars..."
- "If only I had a bigger house..."
- "If only I had a husband..."
- "If only I had children..."
- "If only I had grandchildren..."
- "If only I had hair..."
Every one of us at some time in our lives have said "if only." Our "if onlys" can turn into discontentment.
Discontentment is a restless craving for something one does not have. Discontentment is one of those sins that are often excused as normal reactions to everyday problems, but discontentment can easily grow into resentment or bitterness towards God or others.
For example, if you want to be married, you may become so upset with God that you turn bitter towards Him and complain to Him. You may become resentful towards your friends who are married, and instead of being happy for them, you're mad. It's a wonderful thing to desire to be married, but discontentment can dominate your thoughts and turn your heart cold.
Ecclesiastes 5:10-17 describes people who struggle with discontentment. A discontented person has feelings of dissatisfaction, restlessness, and unhappiness.
A Feeling of Dissatisfaction
A person who loves money never has enough of it and is never satisfied (Ecclesiastes 5:10). A person who is discontent always wants more. The Rolling Stones sang it this way:
"I can't get no satisfaction cause I try, and I try, and I try, and I try, I can't get no satisfaction."
What happens when you get something new? A few months go by, and you're already looking for the next thing. It could be a car, clothes, latest gadget, etc.
When I was 21, I went with my father to Las Vegas to attend the Academy of Country Music Awards Show. I remember walking in to a casino, and I was shocked at what all I saw. I played a 5 cent gambling machine, and on my second try, I got 3 in a row, and I won $80! I was so excited and the thrill got to me. I ended up wanting more, and after moving up to the dollar machine, I ended up losing $45. I don't recommend gambling. The lesson I learned was that even though I got more, I wanted more. How true is that when it comes to life?
The second feeling of discontentment is restlessness.
The Feeling of Restlessness
Ecclesiastes 5:11-12 mentions that the more money and possessions you get, the more you have to maintain and the more people are around. There's an axiom that says:
"More money, more people. More people, more worries. More worries, less sleep."
When you are discontent, you stay awake at night because of all the things you have to maintain and all the people who are relying on you. Because you want more, you often times get more, and then your life turns restless. When you get little sleep, it affects everything else. There are things you desire that you don't yet have that consume you so much that you literally lose sleep over.
What is causing you to feel restless? You might be battling the sin of discontentment.
The third feeling of discontentment is unhappiness.
The Feeling of Unhappiness
Ecclesiastes 5:13-17 describes people who either hoarded their money or lost their money due to a bad investment and were unable to leave money behind for their children. These people who live only for more, come to the end of their lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day they were born. They come into this world with nothing and leave this world with nothing.
They live in an unhappy and joyless world. They live in a world that seems to be without purpose and meaning.
A discontented person lacks passion and purpose in life.
Our sinful nature (the flesh) is telling us to be discontent. So, how do we fight discontentment? I propose 4 things.
1. Repent of our Discontentment.
In order to fight the enemy, we must know the enemy well. Discontentment is a feeling of dissatisfaction, restlessness, and unhappiness. If you are struggling with any of these feelings, take ownership of them and confess it to the Lord. Ask Him to forgive you of your discontentment and to help you find contentment in all circumstances.
2. Thank God for Every Gift.
Ecclessiastes 5 finishes by telling us to find contentment in our jobs and our lives because every good thing we have is from God. God has given us life, possessions, and our work, and all good things are gifts from Him (James 1:17).
When was the last time you thanked God for all the food in your pantry? The heat in your home? The car that got you from Point A to Point B? The job you have that pays the bills?
A heart of thanksgiving will kill a heart of discontentment.
Accepting an unchanging circumstance is one of the hardest things a person can do. If you are dealing with a major health issue or singleness or infertility, this is very difficult for you to accept.
When it comes to unchanging circumstances, we could become more bitter towards God or others, or we could accept our situation and trust that God knows what is best for us. You can ask God to use your difficult situation for His glory and to help others.
Jerry Bridges says:
"In this way (having an attitude of acceptance) you have moved from the attitude of a victim to an attitude of a steward. You begin to ask, 'God, how can I use my disability (or whatever circumstance it may be) to serve You and glorify You?'" (Respectable Sins)
Two times in Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 the writer tells us the man who is content has accepted his lot. As hard as acceptance is, it is in acceptance where we find healing and hope.
4. Find Joy in Jesus Christ.
The result of the flesh is discontentment. The result of the Holy Spirit is joy.
Joy is the emotion of great delight caused by something or Someone exceptionally good. Jesus is exceptionally good. If you believe in Him, you will find joy. This does not mean you will always be happy and have a smile on your face. It means that you will have your needs and longings met. You can be satisfied in Jesus, and only in Jesus. Jesus promises to give us peace, rest, and strength to make it through each day.
We also find joy in the life to come. Christians have joy in knowing that this life is not all there is, but there is great joy awaiting them in Heaven to come (Matthew 13:44).
Discontentment is a temptation for all of us. Let's fight it by repenting, thanking God for all He has done, accepting our circumstances while knowing God is at work, and finding joy in Jesus Christ.