A Heart of Discontent

David Wever

In my devotional time of late, I have been studying the life of David. I have done this study before and have been looking forward to further insights about this man after God’s own heart. But, I have been struck more by another man in the story, Saul: a man with a heart of discontent.

Saul has often been studied and taught about as a ‘leader gone bad’ example. I think I often times have felt more like Saul than David if I honestly look at my heart. Saul had so much going for him. Saul was the first king of Israel and had a reign of forty-two years. But early in his reign, something went terribly wrong. We see the weakness of Saul’s heart come into focus. In I Samuel 13, shortly after Saul took office as king, he found himself in a quandary. He was going into battle with the Philistines and Saul had agreed to wait for the Lord’s prophet, Samuel, to arrive to anoint the army for battle and to sacrifice the burnt offering prior to battle. Seems simple enough, wait for the Lord’s man to arrive before beginning the task at hand. And it seems logical enough from Saul’s perspective that when the guy doesn’t show up for a meeting on time you go on ahead without him with the task at hand. Besides, Saul was king and in charge.

But Samuel was not any ordinary guy and this was not any ordinary task or arrangement. In Saul’s haste, fear, and discontent he decided to take matters into his own hands, and he disobeyed the Lord’s command. When Samuel arrives on the scene he asks Saul in verse 11, ‘What have you done?’ Saul’s response resembles his fear and his thinking, ‘When I saw that the men were scattering and you did not show at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor. So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering” (I Samuel 13:11-12). Samuel replies, ‘You acted foolishly. You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you” (v.13).

Saul felt compelled to take things into his own hands. What drives a man to make a decision like that? Why didn’t he remember his commitment and the Lord’s command? What came over him? I think I know because I have been like Saul. I have jumped into the deep end before looking.

Saul’s example brings up some painful memories in my own heart. Memories of times that I have made quick decisions out of discontent. Looking back over my recovery I have had to ask myself some tough questions. How many times have I in my discontent made a quick or rash decision? How many times have I, out of fear that my wife won’t see my needs, moved towards pleasing myself and breaking covenant with her? What is it about that discontent that causes me to take things into my own hands and not wait patiently for the process or for the Lord to come to me?

I wanted so badly to be like David, a man after God’s own heart but I first had to look at the Saul inside of me. Discontent often consists of two ingredients: impatience and self-centeredness. We see it with Saul’s decision to not wait for Samuel out of his concern for how his army would see him and his need to be in control and in charge. For me as an addict those two things were two key ingredients that led to my immediate gratification of what I desired most. Now I don’t know if Saul was a sex addict but he seems to have had some of the same underlying features that I have seen in my own discontented and shame filled heart at times. No matter what condition of the heart Saul struggled with, sex or otherwise, his discontentment led to some pretty impatient or immediate decisions to gratify his heart. A discontented heart is often soothed through immediate gratification.

Immediate gratification has been something my heart has known well. If emotional intimacy was too overwhelming or if anger raged in my heart or if fear gripped my soul, soothing those ills through sexual acting out brought immediate relief.

I wonder if Saul felt trapped. I can imagine him saying in that moment when he saw his troops running away, ‘I’ve got to do something. This is too much. I’ve got to be seen and in control. Why doesn’t God answer me?’ Do you ever feel like Saul? Trapped and feeling like there is no Samuel on the way or no help just around the corner. Or maybe you have often felt like you have waited long enough. Like Saul, time to go ahead and sacrifice the burnt offering. The pain and discomfort is too much. You might hear yourself saying something like, ‘Why must I continue to always take the high road? Or why doesn’t she let up on me and see me for what I have been doing for her and our life together?’ Out of our discontent we have chosen too often the path of least resistance. I don’t believe we do this just because we are rebellious or bent on destructing our lives. I believe we do it out of moving towards what we have trained ourselves for years to do in those situations.

The answer to this dilemma lies in the waiting. We have got to learn to wait. Wait. Man, have I at times hated that word. To wait meant I was not necessarily going to be in control of the outcome. To wait meant that I was not always going to get a quick end to my situation. To wait meant I would have to trust. Trust. What if Saul would have waited, trusted, and obeyed? What if I had waited so many times before choosing to gratify myself in sexual sin? What I have found is that when I wait I grow a little less likely to make haste out of my discontent. When I wait, a little more of that tendency to immediately gratify myself diminishes. When I wait, I grow a little bit more in resting and taking refuge in the promises of the Lord rather than retreating to the doom of my shame and contempt of my sin.

 ‘I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1). Written by Saul’s successor to the throne. The man after God’s own heart seemed to know something about waiting. My dear brothers, when you feel the weight of discontent on your heart, wait and take refuge in the Lord. He will hear your cry and turn to you.

Lord, help me to wait for you. Take away my discontent and replace it with Your peace. I trust You will hear my cry and turn to me. Hold me as I wait. I love You and trust You. In Jesus name, Amen.

Finding Strength in Weakness

David Wever

Earlier this year I was able to accomplish a feat that I had always desired to do. This was a feat that I had tried for years to begin and accomplish. It seemed to always elude me no matter how much I motivated myself and received encouragement and sometimes admonishment from others to do. I wish I could tell you it was a feat such as climbing Yosemite’s half dome (which I missed summiting last year by one-half mile) or winning a 5k run event (which I never even entered).

Although those would be awesome accomplishments to attain, the one I was able to attain and then maintain was flossing my teeth.

Yes, flossing my teeth!!!

I can only imagine what you might be thinking at this point: ‘Dave has finally lost it.’ Or ‘Dave, you have such high goals for your life.’ Or ‘We never knew and now we wished we didn’t.’ But bear with me for a moment.

This accomplishment symbolized an aspect of my life that for years I had never seen about myself and I thought I could never achieve it: Taking care of myself.

For years my shame from my sexual acting out had not only covered things around my heart but also stole away energy and awareness of the need to take care of my heart and body. For years when I would visit the dentist, my hygienist or the dentist would say, ‘Dave, if you would only take 2 minutes a day and floss, you would save your self so much grief around cavities and fillings.’ And I would leave the dentist sometimes feeling guilty and sometimes feeling empowered only to never begin the practice and finding myself feeling defeated and weak again.

When I first began recovery for Sexual Addiction in late 1995, my sexual addiction was not the only mess in my life. In actuality my whole life was a mess!

Flossing wasn’t the only thing I wasn’t doing for myself. The Lord began to reveal so many weaknesses as He and I began to address the sexual addiction. For starters, I was in financial debt up to my eyeballs, my desk in my office could never be seen for the piles and piles of papers I rarely ever filed or threw away, and I would always complain I was tired even if I had gotten 8 hours of sleep the night before.

The shame around these weaknesses was for me much like the shame I felt around my sexual acting out. I was so afraid of being seen as weak yet that is what I was. Not so much from the weaknesses themselves but rather from the denial, hiding and resentment I had around my heart. For me I lived as if taking care of my heart and my life was for someone else to do..

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I lived as if ”
taking care of my heart and my life
was for someone else to do.
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When I married my wife, Rebecca, I think she thought she was getting a full-grown responsible man who knew how to take care of himself. Instead she got a seven year old boy scared to death of responsibility. I leaned so much on Rebecca to be that strength for me. She couldn’t. And it was also not her role to do that for me. I had to begin to face these weaknesses and the condition of my heart head on. And the revealing of my sexual addiction did just that.

But I was not alone in beginning to face the weaknesses. ‘

The apostle Paul speaks of facing his weaknesses in II Corinthians. Speaking of his weakness he writes, ‘At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then He told me, ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’ ‘so the weaker I get, the stronger I become (2 Corinthians 12:8-9,10b, MSG).’ When I first read this passage in recovery I was somewhat encouraged but at that point much more scared and doubtful at the prospect of finding strength in weakness.

Looking at my weaknesses would mean dropping my guard. But as I began to drop my guard and look at my weaknesses, a funny thing happened. I began to feel strength. The strength to sit in a financial seminar and begin to learn to budget. The strength to begin to take the time each week to file papers and organize my desk. The strength to begin to eat and sleep properly and care for my body and emotions. And the strength to floss my teeth. I believe that as God began to help me face my weaknesses and truly see my heart, His covering of grace allowed me to have strength to do even the smallest of tasks in my life. The responsibility of taking care of my heart and life began to happen out of the grace and strength He gave me in facing my weaknesses..


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His grace is our covering
as we step out
of our hiding place!

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Brothers, His grace is our covering as we step out of our hiding place and begin to look at the weaknesses He reveals in our hearts. What areas of weakness has the Lord began to reveal in your heart as your shame and guard begin to come down? Write them down and begin to talk about them with someone within a safe, healing relationship. Remember, His grace is enough. It’s all the strength you will need!

For more help see our Every Man’s Battle resources and Every Man’s Battle workshop.

Blessings for the Pure in Heart

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Recently, my family and I returned from a vacation trip. After we boarded the plane to return home, we were delayed on the runway for three hours due to a line of thunderstorms moving through the Chicago area. As we waited for the plane to get clearance to take-off, the movie ‘Chicago‘ came on.

Our two oldest children Abigail, 7 and Micah, 5 had brought plenty to do on the plane and my wife and I explained to them that the movie was not appropriate for them to watch. They understood and we proceeded to read and play with them to occupy their attention away from the inappropriate movie.

On occasion, Rebecca or I would catch one of them watching the movie and we would gently remind them to refocus on their activities. Due to the long delay and the temptation right in front of them, the reminders were many. On about the third time of encouraging my daughter Abigail to refocus, she looked at me with the most troubling, anguished face and said, “But, Daddy it’s so hard.” After briefly empathizing with her and helping her to refocus, my heart broke for her. She was right – it is very hard. Hard not to look. Hard not to be enticed. Hard not to want to see more than allowed.

As I thought about my daughter’s true expression of her heart, I was reminded about the difficulty we men on the healing path of recovery face at times when temptation presents itself to us. We definitely know that God will give us a way out when tempted (I Corinthians 10:13) and we are growing daily at practicing an implementing our maintenance tools and God’s truth about us in recovery. But I want to encourage you that He knows that it is hard to choose purity in spite of our daily obedience to Him in our recovery.

Jesus said: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” – Matthew 5:8, NIV

Maintaining purity in light of the difficulty to resist temptation will be rewarded. Rewarded in a way that says we will see Him. I interpret this in two ways. First, we will see God in Heaven someday when we die. Secondly, we will know His comfort now in the midst of our trial. You might be wondering how? How do we know His comfort? He experienced the same temptation and pain that we face. In Hebrews 2:17-18, Paul writes: “For this reason, He had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”

He’s been there. Jesus is the ultimate in empathy and understanding. As the Message puts it, “He would have already experienced it all Himself—all the pain, all the testing—and would be able to help where help was needed.” (Hebrews 2:18, MSG).

Gentlemen, we have a Savior and High Priest who knows where we’ve been. He knows how hard it is too be tempted and to remain pure. It was His own purity in response to being tempted that allows us to trust and take refuge in Him without doubting His love, mercy, and faithfulness to us.

Let God know how difficult it is; then take REFUGE in His LOVE for you!

This battle with being tempted by sexual sin is hard and difficult. But remember to let Him know how difficult it is for you on days when it seems so hard to resist and then take refuge in His love for you knowing that he will give you understanding because he’s been there, too. And because He’s been there too, He is able to help when and where help is needed. This help may come through taking shelter in His word or the help may come through leaning on the understanding of another brother who can empathize with you and encourage you to keep pure in the face of temptation. Just as my daughter Abigail reached out to her Daddy, you can reach out to your heavenly Father when things get tough. He will understand. He will be faithful to hear your heart and help you refocus on the things that are pure, lovely, and right.

For more help on this subject, see Every Man’s Battle or call 800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433)