True contentment is a thing as active as agriculture. It is the power of getting out of any situation all that there is in it. It is arduous and it is rare.G.K. Chesterton
Contentment is not inherited, it is learned. Most people discover—at a very young age—that they cannot have everything they want, but that doesn’t stop them from wanting everything they cannot have. Some wiser people have also found out that getting their desires didn’t necessarily satisfy them; often it left them craving more.
When the Israelites were traveling in the desert after their glorious exodus from Egypt, they immediately started complaining about how much better life was back in Egypt (where they had been slaves). God provided manna and water. Not long after their basic needs were met, they complained about the manna. God showered them with quail… and still, they complained.
Nothing was ever “enough” for them.
Yet, how are you and I any different?
Let’s say you’re one of the fortunate people who own a home. Maybe you worked for years earning the down payment and you have dreamed of this home forever. When you finally move in to this “dream home,” what happens?
“I don’t like this color.”
“I want new furniture.”
“This layout isn’t as good as I thought it would be.”
“The neighbors are too loud.”
Almost immediately, more than just the house is desired.
It’s not just material possessions that cause us discontent. It happens in relationships, status, location, and more. We seek to always seek “the next big thing.”
So how do we learn contentment?
First, as a child of God, it is vital to deepen our relationship with God. I guarantee you, He has done more for you than you might recognize. The older I get, the more I see how often He has blessed my family in ways I didn’t always understand until much later. The Lord is always present and faithful and He provides always provides our basic needs (not our endless wants). When we dwell on who He is and all He does, it becomes clearer that He is all we truly need… and that is when we learn contentment.
Second, we have to recognize that this life will never be “enough.” This seems contradictory on the surface, but consider: because this life is temporary and this world is NOT our permanent home, we have an innate longing for the eternal. We attempt to satisfy this longing with earthly stuff—power, possessions, pleasure—only to find out that they leave us empty and dissatisfied. Once we recognize how fleeting it all is, we are free to stop chasing these passing pleasures and to pursue lasting joy.
Third, we have to continue our education. As long as you and I live in this world, we are going to live through some challenging situations. Maybe you cannot find a spouse or have been recently widowed; maybe you can’t have children or maybe you have children with disabilities; maybe you are in a miserable job or school situation. Such things can breed discontentment! Like Paul, we have to learn contentment in all situations through Christ. It doesn’t mean you are sinful for wanting something less painful, but it does mean learning to find joy and gratitude in all circumstances. It’s a continuous learning process.
This month, we will write through Scriptures on contentment. I would love for you to share your insights as you write through these passages. You can comment on this page or on the Elihu’s Corner Facebook page or Instagram account (@elihuscorner).
To download a black and white printable PDF, please click the link below:
Sara McBroom has provided copying & tracing sheets for your young scripture writers. To download, click the links below:
It is my prayer that each of us will grow in Christ as we meditate on His word.