I was talking to someone recently who was really discontented with their life.
They had prayed and prayed for something for years and God, seemingly, hadn’t answered their prayers…..this person was really angry and discontented with their life & with God. It’s difficult to know what to say in those circumstances but God said to me ‘this person needs to surrender their life to me again and trust me that I know what’s best right now…’ Sadly the guy wouldn’t hear of it…..
I guess this caused me to reflect on what I’d said and to consider what God would say to us when our prayers aren’t seemingly being answered and we’re discontent with life…
Was the guys attitude acceptable? Was God happy with his reaction? Is there anything we can learn? Is it possible to be content and discontent at the same team?
I think there’s a real secret there….. Paul says:
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. (Philippians 4:10-14 NIV)
I’m content with the narrative of my life….but I know there’s more…
I’m content with how much I’ve experienced of God….but I know there’s more…
I’m content with the impact our church has made but know there’s much more that I long to see happen…
I’m content with my personal situation but know there are long term prayers I’d like to see answered…
I believe it’s possible to be content & discontent at the same time!
How can we be content and discontent at the same time?!
1. Realise that God is sovereign and knows what’s best at any time.
The Puritan preacher, Jeremiah Burroughs, wrote in his book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, that contentment is “that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”
2. Develop thankfulness for what we actually have…not what we don’t! Count our blessings. Discontent is the result of striving for something we can’t have. Result: coloured view of our world and discontentment which eventually will spill over into other areas of our lives (and relationships!)
3. Realise the importance of praying for his will to be done in every area our lives.
4. Understand that seeking His Kingdom first is our priority and that our own desires actually should come second (this is the teaching of Jesus and how the early Christians lived. Sadly many have missed this).
5. This is tough! Grasp that the scripture teaches us to ‘take up our cross daily and follow Jesus’ (Means making sacrifices at times and sadly not having everything our own way!)
6. Remember that nothing in my life should become an idol or take God’s place: ‘you shall have no other Gods before me’ (first commandment). Surrender it to God. It is an amazing feeling to say ‘God…you know what…I’m letting go…..’
7. Aware that choosing to live contentedly is something that I can learn and starts with a choice and an act of my will. God promises to help me live this out each and every day.
‘I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.’
8. It’s about surrendering and choosing what to let go of and what to fight for! (Not easy but made easier by previous steps!)
9. Know when to continue to seek God for breakthrough: There have been many times when, having surrendered something to God, whilst feeling content, I have also felt a Godly discontentment rise up which leads me to continue to pray for a breakthrough. I’ve found myself at peace – but praying for better and at peace – but refusing to settle for second best!
The amazing thing I have also discovered is this – that sometimes (not every time) once I’ve chosen to surrender my desires and plans to God – that the breakthrough often comes…..
Is there a situation or context where you are discontent? Maybe you should try this exercise…
Why not take a few moments right now to talk to God about your life.
Thank Him for all that you do have (take some time doing this).
Ask Him to identify if there is any area where you’re discontented and surrender it to Him.
Ask forgiveness if anything has become an idol.
Ask for His strength to be content and thankful for what you do have.
Ask Him if he wants you to pursue the thing that you are discontented about.
Then, when you know your heart is right, ask for Him to breakthrough
You’ll be amazed at how releasing this actually is….if you genuinely mean it when you do it.
Really hope this article helps…..I’ve lived this out myself, it’s a lesson from my journey and it has helped me immensely as I live for Christ. And finally remember this….if you can grasp this and live it out God promises to be with you:
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV)