My sister and I used to brace ourselves every time we would see family who lived far away from us. Without a doubt, the question we were most often asked was, "So have you met anybody yet?" And the answer was usually the same, "No, not yet." The person who asked would just smile and nod sympathetically: "I bet it will be soon."
By no means was this question asked with wrong intentions. These family members only saw us once or twice a year, so it made sense that they would want to know, just in case something had happened. But the question nonetheless created discontentment in both my and my sister's heart. It caused us to long for the next season instead of enjoying the one we were in. It somehow made us think that we were missing out on something when the exact opposite was true. We forgot to enjoy where the Lord had us and trust Him with our stage of life.
Discontentment is a very common human trait. We find it throughout the Old Testament and even in the first sin of mankind. When Satan prompted Adam and Eve to eat the fruit God had forbidden them from, they acted on their discontentment. They wanted what the Lord had, and they thought He might be withholding something from them. Unfortunately, discontentment was passed to their descendants. Sarah was discontent with her inability not to have children, so she gave Abraham her maidservant Hagar to bear his children. Jacob was discontent over being married to Leah and not Rachel, and so he married both sisters, bringing pain and havoc into their lives and marriages. The people of Israel were discontent in the wilderness even though God had just delivered them from slavery, and they complained and cried out to Moses that they would rather return to be slaves than follow him any further. All of these people let their discontentment completely overwhelm them, and they suffered as a result. It led them away from the source of all contentment and joy, the Lord. They were convinced there was something better that was being withheld, and without saying it aloud or even thinking they were doing so, they let their pride place themselves above the Lord.
Discontentment leads us to believe that we would be happy if we only were in a different situation. By thinking this, we reject what the Lord has presently given us as good, and we deny that He is enough. We think that our ways are above the Lord's and that we should be the ones to control our lives. Dwelling on our discontentment will only lead us into discouragement, bitterness, and jealousy.
But feeling discontentment and wrestling with it is a part of the human experience. We will all go through this at one point or another. It is not feeling discontent that is sinful, but rather the actions we sometimes choose to take because of it. So how can we take our discontentment and give it to the Lord? How can we use this feeling to encourage our growth in holiness and love for Christ? There are three things I suggest doing when you are struggling with feelings of discontentment. These are things that have helped Christians throughout centuries, and I am confident they can help you too.
- Bring it to the Lord
The first step to take with any discontentment is to honestly and openly bring it before the Lord. Spend a few minutes in prayer, talking audibly with Him and processing through what you are feeling. If writing it out works better for you, write it out to Him. While you are doing this, ask Him to show you why this situation or season is bringing you such discontentment. Ask Him to help you rely on Him in your discontentment and know that He will help you.
- Know He is Your Satisfaction
The root of any discontentment is usually tied to a lack of belief that God is who He says He is. Discontentment often rears its head when we doubt His provision. And because we are human, we are prone to forget. Each moment of discontentment in the Bible is linked to forgetfulness of the faithfulness of God. So in these moments of doubt and lack of trust in God, we must remind ourselves of who God is. And we can remind ourselves by opening our Bibles and reading about His character. Who He is changes everything about us and how we view our lives. His goodness and provision heal any discontentment. Thank Him for who He is and what He has given you.
There are some seasons we face that are especially difficult: losing a loved one; marital unfaithfulness or strife; a child walking away from the faith; the loss of a job or home. And while it is right and good to grieve and mourn these situations, the goodness of God can still nourish us in these agonizing times. It is the healing we need the most, and while we may be sorrowful and overcome with grief, our hearts will ultimately rest in God when our contentment is in Him. Contentment in God does not mean we will always have smiles on our faces, but it does mean our souls will know peace.
- Watch for His Faithfulness
As we recognize our discontentment and take it to the Lord, and then remind ourselves of who He is instead of dwelling on our frustration, we will begin to see His faithfulness so much more. Our habit of dwelling in discontentment will gradually become a habit of dwelling in the faithfulness of God. He is who He says He is, and in Him is all that we need. By thinking of Him more, you will also begin to think of yourself and your discontentment less. It is not wrong to struggle in a hard season of life or long for something not yet yours, but it does mean that as you wait, you can rest in a faithful God who loves you. You can know that He has ordained your current season, and in every season, He will always be yours.
Our discontentment can lead us into His arms.