I often hear people respond to the question “How are you?” by saying, “I’m content.” It’s the new “I’m fine.”
Discontentment isn’t a word reserved just for single people or the poor or those with health issues. Discontentment is a real sin issue for all believers, caused by the lack of belief that God is enough. It can’t be fixed by gifts, relationships, promotions, or any temporary satisfaction.
When I ponder over my life, I can easily identify seasons of struggle with discontentment. It has taken many different forms in my life and often creeps back in. From college into my mid-20’s, I struggled with this fear that I was going to remain single, because I didn’t (and still don’t) desire that. I became discontent when I began to look for comfort from that fear and ultimate satisfaction in my relationships. In that season, I worshiped the thought of marriage; I longed to be married more than I longed for our gracious God. Through heartbreak, the Lord showed me that only He was enough for me in that area of my life.
My struggle with discontentment continues today — through the desire for relationships, success, the house down the street, the next pair of shoes. There are times that I have tried to place satisfaction and value in these things. Each time I’ve faced the sin of my discontentment, I’ve wanted a quick fix. Like buying a pair of shoes is really going to fulfill me. But in moments, I honestly believed it would. Instead, I needed to repent from putting hope in temporal things.
I know what it looks like in my life to be discontent. Do you? What are you looking to aside from God to give you satisfaction?
The Meaning of Contentment
Being content doesn’t mean that you never have a vision or desire for anything in your life. One of the biggest misconceptions about being content is that all desires disappear. A single person can be content and still long for marriage. For those who desire to be a parent or the person who desires a successful career, it’s the same thing: those are good desires, but we can pervert them by turning them into idols when we look to these things to give us satisfaction.
Contentment means. . .
+ You know and believe that God has your back.
When we are discontent, we often believe we are alone, fighting for ourselves. The author of Hebrews writes, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb 13:5). Contentment is to know and rest in the fact that in all things, God will never leave you or forsake you.
+ You know and believe that God loves you.
The reason we can call ourselves Christians is because God persistently loves us. It was He who revealed himself to us. It was He who pursued us, not us Him. When we arrive at the cross, we see all that Christ bore on our behalf—our suffering, our death, and our punishment. And in return, we get life. God loves you, and there isn’t anything that can take that away (Rom 8:38–39).
+ You know and believe that God will meet your every need.
Paul’s words in Philippians 4:10–20 point back to God’s provision in his life and the faith that God would provide for others. Contentment doesn’t mean God will give you whatever you want. It’s trusting that God in his providence is working out all things for your good and his glory (Rom. 8:28).
+ You know and believe that God is enough.
There is nothing on this earth that can even come close to giving you lasting satisfaction. Nothing. We need to stop comparing what we have—or don’t have—to those around us (2 Cor 10:12). When we fall into comparison, we get cheap answers or fixes to what we think can fix our discontentment. Asaph in Psalm 73 looked at the wicked and almost stumbled, but then realized that God was enough. “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps 73:25–26).
We can only be content because God is Who He says He is. Because of Who He is and what He’s done, our identity, worth, and hope rest only in Him. In nothing else will we find contentment.
Amanda Edmondson is on staff at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Ky where she serves as the Co-Leader of Women's Ministry and the Executive Assistant to Daniel Montgomery. You can follow her at @amandaedmondson