We often find it difficult to be content with what we’ve been given don’t we? How often do you compare yourself with others, whether it’s your job, your spouse, your child’s performance, your looks, or even your talent, and find yourself falling short? Comparison produces discontentment. It results in blaming God for not providing what He presumably should, and life becomes an ongoing struggle of the discontented heart. And friends, this isn’t the sort of struggle that lessens with age.
The truth is, contentment doesn’t come from what you have. It comes from a heart change, a change of mind-set, and a willing choice. Only a transformation of mind, emotions, and will can bring about real and lasting contentment in your heart. And only a personal encounter with the living God can bring about this kind of transformation.
When God gets hold of a person, that person becomes a new creature. He or she finds refuge in the Lord of all wisdom and kindness, and recognizes God’s provision is sufficient. That person learns to trust that the Lord knows exactly what His children need and cares about their every desire. That person comes to own by faith the magnificent message of Psalm 139: the One who knows you best, loves you most. Is this the direction you’re moving, friend? I pray it is.
But these are lessons that aren’t always learned easily. What new creature comes forth without a few birth pangs? What profound lessons are mastered without frustrations and setbacks?
Consider the patriarch Jacob. His life was an exercise in deception, disappointment, and discontentment, until he wrestled with the Lord one fateful night on the bank of the Jabbok River. Daybreak found Jacob a new person; a father to the nations; a man on a mission from the Lord. Jacob’s life took on purpose that transcended discontentment. Hebrews 11:21 comments, ‘By faith Jacob, when he was dying . . . worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff.‘ In a foreign land, weak with age, and well acquainted with heartache, Jacob died content in the Lord.
In his book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Jeremiah Burroughs said, “Christian 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.” You’re content when at peace with, submitted to, and happy in God. So please don’t shy away from struggling with God over the discontentment in your life. Your struggle may not look the same as Jacob’s, but each of us must walk the same path: discontentment, struggle, an encounter with God, a new identity, and contentment. Whatever shape your night on the Jabbok may take, being mastered by God is far sweeter than being ruled by worry and disappointment.
Excerpted from “Being God’s Man by Finding Contentment” by Stephen Arterburn