Whatsoever Magazine

Perfectly Discontent?

Posted on: October 10, 2006

Is it ever okay to be discontent?
Mostly, no.
It’s not okay to be discontent with our circumstances.
It’s not okay to be discontent with our marital status.
It’s not okay to be discontent with our finances.
It’s not okay to be discontent with our family.
It’s not okay to be discontent with what God has called us to.

Being discontent—unhappy, dissatisfied, grumbling—in these situations is dangerous ground to be treading. When we complain about such situations, we challenge God’s omniscience and His inherent goodness. We question His sovereignty and set ourselves up as authorities. That’s not a safe place to be.

But there are times when contentment can be dangerous ground, too. I’m not talking about an abiding content that stems from submissive trust in God’s care for our lives. The type of contentment I’m referring to is a contentment rooted in complacency. It’s the contentment of an overfed beast which won’t move to find a fresh grazing spot. It’s the contentment of the hermit who is happy with his solitary hovel because he can’t see anything better. This kind of contentment is just as dangerous as discontent.

It’s not okay to be content in lethargy.
It’s not okay to be content in compromise.
It’s not okay to be content in stagnation.

Ever seen a River dry up so much that it becomes a little dotted line of ponds playing follow-the-leader? The ponds themselves, once a connected, vibrant stream of life-giving water, turn this yucky murky colour. Cut off from the movement of the stream, they become dead waterholes. The water turns stale and muddy and gets a bad smell to it. The only thing it’s good for is breeding mosquitoes. What caused its uselessness? A lack of movement.

When we become content in complacency and in compromise, when we stop moving, we become sick. We become muddied and lifeless and not good for much at all.

That’s why we, as Christians, must ever be pressing upwards, moving forward, running to the Source of Living Water. We can’t be content to sit stagnantly while life grows more and more murky.

Discontentment and envy are so often rooted in greed. We want marriage. We want life to be easier. We want money. We want to be pretty. We want more stuff. Discontentment cries for more, more, more.

Begging for more when our desires are earthly and based on lust is always wrong. But there are some cries for ‘more’ which the Lord delights to hear. The cry for more love. The cry for more purity. The cry for more holiness. The cry for a heart filled with compassion. The cry for Christ-likeness. The cry for a greater understanding of God’s awesomeness. The apostle Paul said, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. [1] When we cry these prayers from our heart, when we strive to press towards the mark, the Lord takes joy.

And yet even in such a heart-cry, there is a paradox. Any good in us comes from Him. He calls us to obedience and yet only He can grant us the strength to step out. He fills us with the passion for more love, more holiness, more purity, more of His light in our lives. And then He causes us to rely on Him to be able to do all those things.

Growing in godliness is both a gift and a challenge. We must pursue, and yet we must wait on God. Sometimes His timing is different to our own. Even in this state, we must balance our discontent in remaining stagnant with contentment in God to do His work in His own time. But we can trust Him: He will do it. Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. [2]

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and the praise of God. [3] Let’s not be content in apathy. Press on!

Danielle Carey
Notes: [1] Philippians 3:14, [2] Philippians 1:6, [3] Philippians 1:9-11.
From Whatsoever Magazine, Volume 8 #4

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