First off, you are not alone. The struggle to be content is real. We make it more real than it ever needs to be. Living in a world where you can buy anything at any time whether you have the money or not, has become normal. We let the fantasy of earthly romance briefly fill a longing in our hearts, while crossing boundaries that chip away at our innocence. We think moving to the next thing, attaining success or a new job will solve our problems (because our problems aren’t that big to begin with, right?). Wrong.
When we desire things or people more than God, it’s sin. When we struggle with honoring God as all we need, it goes beyond the surface, being rooted in our hearts. In order to take our focus from wanting stuff or people, we have to surrender our hearts to Christ. It is so very easy to lose sight of that when we begin to feel content because of things other than Jesus.
So back in May, I wrote a note in my phone. It started with, “Why do I always feel like I need something new? There are a handful of days out of the year when I feel content. Like truly, fully content.” I had found myself so easily pleased by spending money frivolously. It could be anything from buying new work clothes to lunch for my husband. This only happens when my focus shifts, and I am not spending enough time actively worshiping God. But I found myself feeling fulfilled or complacent. Feelings can get you in trouble, let me tell you. God created emotions. He gave them to us; perfectly crafted emotions for us to relate to each other in ways we wouldn’t be able to without them.
Our emotions do not get to dictate our actions, unless we allow them to. Sometimes we experience the best things when we only follow our hearts, but all too often we replace truth with how we feel. Our emotions are so real and raw at times that it’s hard to see beyond them. The best part is that truth never changes; therefore, God is constant, unwavering in the face of our emotions, and working for our good in spite of the lies we believe.
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom…” That’s the first half of 1 Corinthians 1:25, and it so simply shows how greatly we fall short of the Glory of God. We can be so easily blinded by our version of wisdom, when in fact we are beyond foolish. We convince ourselves that the unnecessary will fill our hearts with peace and joy, when everything we need is found in Jesus. Content at its very definition means to be satisfied with what you have; not wanting more.
So as we work to shift our focus from things to God, we will experience some growing pains. Hebrews chapter 12, verse 11 says,
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
We have to remember that God holds the title of our Father. As a loving father, he wants to shape us and mold us, and that requires discipline. It doesn’t always feel good. We won’t always feel content. But as I said earlier, truth never changes and God’s word is truth. The Word promises us that if we stay the course and surrender to Christ, we will receive “peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Contentment will come with practice.
When you find yourself struggling to feel content, take time to reflect on how you have been living. Take a look at where you spend your resources, including: money, time, and skills. Schedules and routines aren’t for everyone, but make dedicated time for God. Don’t replace that time with anything else because you might walk away feeling content, but your soul will still be hungry. Let His word sink into your heart and continue His transformation. God loves you where you’re at, but too much to let you stay there. The more you practice being content and focusing on God throughout your daily life, you will find that no matter where you are physically, emotionally or spiritually, God is there and that is enough. When you don’t have a Pinterest perfect life or even a glimpse of it, God is there and that is enough.
Breathe in Emmanuel. Exhale the world.