“Not that I speak in respect of want (need): for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed (have learned) both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”Philippians 4:11-12
When I was young, I had many aspirations for myself. I thought I would achieve greatness and success in all things, and I could not imagine a life outside of those goals. My aspirations did not move me to work hard or study more, but I simply believed great things would come because I had big dreams. The older I got, the less realistic my dreams and visions seemed to be as there can only be so many Spud Webbs and Mugsey Bogues in the NBA. Although I could throw, no one was calling me to come play college football. I failed 10th grade English class, and I got a 16 on my ACT. My big dreams dreams were not lining up for me as I had expected.
We live in the greatest country in the world, but yet we still find things and situations to be discontent in. I started my career in dishwashing making $4.25/hour and I was happy to have a job. After a few months had passed, the happiness of having a job wore off, and my contentment was lost in the suds and hot water of the dish room. I began to complain about the wrinkly hands and heat, and I no longer was grateful for my job. I went from the dish room to painting to throwing garbage, and each time along the way, the allure of having a job soon dissipated, and my heart desired more.
My desire in any job I’ve had is to move up and become the CEO, even though these are still not realistic ambitions. I know there is a fine line between contentment and desiring to do your best, but I often crossed the line of doing my best and went straight to discontentment. I failed to see the provision of God in my life, and I only saw that I did not have the position I thought I deserved. Each time, I felt slighted by the company, but in all honesty, I felt slighted by God. I felt like I worked hard with nothing to show for it, and I thought I deserved more for my efforts. I failed to see my poor attitude and complaining spirit, and I told anyone who would listen that the world was against me. I once lost a job I thought I would have forever, and this was something God used to work in my life.
When I lost that job and was out of work, I was desperate for any job, so I accepted an offer to work in the world of retail. I was elated to be working, but that soon wore off as the Black Fridays turned into the everyday blues. I was in my 30s, and I can promise you that as little boy, I never dreamed of working in retail. When it was career day in grade school, I never dressed up in red and khaki and asked fellow classmates, “How can I help you?” I became discontent in my job, and I allowed Satan to do a work on me. Discontentment became an overwhelming sin in my life, and it was one of several sins I was struggling with. I was not grateful for the job I had prayed for, and I began to question God’s goodness.
Genesis 3:1 describes Satan’s tactics, “Now the serpent was more subtil (cunning) than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Satan will always question God’s goodness and ask you to question it as well. He used this bait in the Garden of Eden and he still uses it today. Thomas Watson said, “Satan loves to fish in the troubled waters of a discontented heart.” A discontented heart is a heart that questions God, and feels God is not good because we do not have the life we thought we would have or the things our heart desires. We forget about the forgiveness of our sins, we forget about our moment-by-moment provisions, and we forget about the grace of God. We focus on what we don’t have instead of being thankful for the abundance of what we do have. Our perspective becomes worldly, and we are in need of spiritual recalibration. If we are not careful, discontentment quickly turns to bitterness towards God, and we will find ourselves in a downward spiral.
Where are you today friend? Are there things in your life that you use to justify a complaining spirit? Has your expectation of a different life than God has allowed at this time led to discontentment? Have you found contentment in the One who has given us of the water freely that we will never thirst again? Contentment comes only from God as He is the only One who can truly satisfy, no matter our circumstances. May we find true contentment in Him, and may the promises of God drown out the whispers of the Devil.