Are you known for being content? Or is your inner life a long trail of grumbles muttered under your breath? We too often think of contentment as being the result of some math equation. Subtract all the nasty stuff from all the good stuff, if the answer is positive than––tada––we’re content; but if it’s negative we have good reason for the grumps.
But contentment isn’t a math equation of weighing our various circumstances. It isn’t a philosophical height that can be gained by walking through enough zen gardens. It isn’t a physical achievement which can be found by contorting into the right yoga pose. It’s a result of grace in the heart. Without grace, nothing is ever sufficient to bring about contentment.
By grace, prisons become cathedrals. Bitter waters become sweet. Trials become times of thanksgiving. Chains become musical instruments for praise. Blessings aren’t taken for granted. Joys aren’t presumptuously enjoyed. Grace shapes our heart like clay into a vessel overflowing with gratitude for all things––whether hard or easy––which the Father brings into our life.
However, as one pastor remarked, “Discontent adds greatly to the burden of living.” It makes the weights heavier, the gloom darker, the burdens more cumbersome. The blessings are never bright enough. There’s fault to be found in everything from the seraphim to the salamander. At its root, discontentment arises from a graceless heart. A heart which has deceived itself into thinking it’s the sun at the center of the solar system.
Discontentment makes the turkey dry, the gravy bland, and the pies dull. Worse yet, it makes the fellowship frigid, the conversation barbed, and the relationships strained. Contentment, on the other hand, can make a meager meal a feast, it can make enemies into friends, it can turn hardships into joys. It does this because it is rooted in the fact that God is on the throne.
Israel murmured in the wilderness, and were we in that company, we’d have likely done exactly the same. If you’ve found yourself murmuring, turn to the Lord in repentance for all your complaining, muttering, grumbling, and discontentment with everything and everyone. Further, if you peel back one more layer, you’ll find you’ve been masking your complaints in all sorts of excuses as to why your complaining is justified. All such grumbling and discontent comes from a heart which thinks it is god. This is idolatry, and is the root of ungodliness. But as the Apostle Paul taught, godliness with contentment is great gain. Which means, when we receive grace to be godly, along with it comes the trust that the Lord will supply all your needs, in all circumstances, all for His glory.