Contentment through Discontentment

Barbara's post on contentment caused me to remember something that I wrote about ten years ago in my meditations on the life of Job:
It was the summer of 1988. Things were normal. Life seemed to be "a piece of cake". I was being considered for a new position with my company and I was sure that I would get it. Things looked good and suddenly the bottomed dropped out and someone else got the position. Seems trivial in light of "boils all over". After all I still had a job. Sure my ego was bruised - so what. Well the what is prayer. I began to pray about my situation - and God began to talk. He told me that my problem involved contentment. Sure I wasn't content with my job but it was only because I knew the future of computer technology lied with that "other" job. I continued to pray and God continued to talk to me about being content. I worked on being content with my job. Then God said something to me that created a change in my life. He told me that though I was not content with what I did, I was very content with who I was ... and I no longer sought Him. You see, if you are content with yourself, you don't have to change ... you don't have to be a seeker. I realized that I had the whole thing reversed - God wanted to bring about change in my life as I sought him in prayer. He wanted to bring contentment with things through a discontentment with my spiritual life.

Back to Job and complaining. Do you think that much of our complaining comes from a lack of contentment? I believe that we can only really be content when we become thoroughly discontent with who we are - when we seek God and let him bring contentment into our lives.
I re-read this and wondered if I have become spiritually lazy? You know I really want to rationalize this 18 year old message away but just can't seem to get there. I think that contentment can only come through seeking the Lord in prayer. The message of contentment seems to come loud and clear in these passages:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)
The cold hard reality of contentment is that even in a very difficult place we can be content if we seek the Lord in prayer. Paul was in jail when he wrote Philippians and spoke about contentment in a hard place. It is notable to read that "I can do all things" is written in the context of contentment ... in the context of a jail cell. Today I suggest that we consider and evaluate what we are content with - ourselves or our circumstances? The truth is that if we are content spiritually we will not pray in a way that causes us to change.

1 comment:

  1. wow...that's an interesting message, Bob. I have been very content...and you're right, I have talked less about myself to Him lately. Maybe that's good, maybe not. I always talk to Him about others...but I have stalled spiritually with myself. He has filled me with many dreams lately, and now I know why. He's tryin' to talk to ME!


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