Last week I was on the phone catching up with an old friend when she asked me, “What’s new with you?” She had just returned from a European vacation and came home to a new apartment in the city, a new job and a new car. I sat there in silence for a few seconds, trying to think of something to say. In that moment, my heart longed for more. My house was too small and my town was too boring. My role as a wife and mom suddenly felt like a burden instead of a blessing. I had nothing exciting to say.
It’s easy to fall into discontentment. We see God blessing others and choose to covet instead of praise. We always seem to want more than what we have. But these things will never truly fulfill us. In 1 Timothy, Paul urges us to have an eternal perspective.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-8, ESV
We can’t take our material possessions with us. Yet we live in a world where we are constantly bombarded by ads that tell us we need bigger, better stuff. And it’s not just material possessions we long for – we are often discontent with where God has us in life. We wish we were married with kids, had a better job, a better church, lived in a better city….the list goes on.
The Israelites were all too familiar with discontentment. In Numbers 11, the Israelites are journeying to the Promised Land and they aren’t happy with the way things are going. Instead of thanking the Lord for the many good things He was doing, they decided to focus on their temporary circumstances.
“And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down.” – Numbers 11:1-2, ESV
The people complained and the Lord heard. When we complain about circumstances that aren’t ideal to us, we are telling God what He’s done isn’t good enough. We idolize comfort, relationships and material success instead of delighting in God’s grace and mercy. So how can we nurture contentment in our hearts?
1) Pray. Repent of your sin and pray that God would work through the Spirit to change your desires and your perspective. Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit as our Helper (John 14:26). True heart change cannot happen without the work of the Spirit. Ask God to remind you of the joy and satisfaction that comes through His work on the cross.
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Matthew 26:41
2) Give thanks. Learn to appreciate the beauty around you. You don’t have to be on a tropical getaway to enjoy God’s creation. Give thanks for the sunlight peeking through your blinds, the birds making a nest outside your window, the leaves dancing in the wind. Train yourself to look for God’s blessings and make thankfulness a habit. Give thanks for the happy kids making a mess in the house, the big project at work, the old car that’s still working, the little house you’ve made into a home. Get a notebook and jot things down as they come to mind. Even when circumstances are difficult, there is much to be thankful for.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
3) Look up. Take a break from your smartphone and look up. Spending lots of time on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest can tempt us to long for “bigger, better” things. We are constantly bombarded with engagements, new homes, dream vacations and other accomplishments…..these are wonderful things and we should be joyful for our friends. And it’s not a bad thing to want to get married or go on vacation! However, when you are tempted to compare your life to others and complain about your situation, it’s time to take a break. Look up. Remind yourself of God’s promises and rejoice in the ultimate gift you have in Christ.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” - Colossians 3:1-2, ESV
We will only find true satisfaction and fulfillment in the Lord. He is good – and He is enough.
Allie Mondell is a wife and mom who loves Jesus, tea and British novels. When she's not chasing her twin boys around, you can find her spending time with friends or catching up on some much-needed sleep. Allie and her family are part of a church plant in Gainesville, FL. You can keep up with Allie on her personal blog or on Instagram.