This month we will celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a holiday set aside to get together with family or friends and celebrate all that we have to be thankful for. Being aware of our blessings is important and should not be relegated to one day a year.
I find it funny that the day after Thanksgiving many people rush out to get good deals on things we don’t have and think we need. I know that a lot of shopping on Black Friday is done for other people, but it seems a bit contradictive that one day we celebrate what we are thankful for and the next we are rushing to buy more. (By the way, I do a lot of shopping on Black Friday, too.) So, I’m asking myself as well, whatever happened to contentment?
The definition of contentment is: “That degree of happiness which consists in being satisfied with present conditions; a quiet, uncomplaining, satisfied mind.” One of the best examples of contentment is written by Paul to the church in Philippi. Here is what he says, “I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:11-13
Today it is rare to find anyone who is completely content with their condition in life. I am not speaking of contentment leading to laziness or lack of initiative. God’s Word also warns us about that. I am talking about being content with our current circumstances instead of allowing the need for more to rule our actions and our lives. The need for more is not just associated with money or the material things that money can buy. It can also include the need for power, for control, for attention, for social status.
Discontentment is not a new concept. It was discontentment that led to the first sin. The root of most wars starts with discontentment. It has led to infidelity, theft, pretense, jealousy, perfectionism, entitlement, debt, divorce, hatred, murder and many more insidious invasions to our peace and wellbeing. It leads to stress, depression, disappointment, and anger.
The wider the access to technology and information, the more bombarded we become with seeing things that we don’t have, being told that we need certain things, and desiring more. So, while contentment has always been something people have struggled with, I think the more invasive media has become, the more evasive contention becomes.
So how do we capture this illusive state of contentment? How can we get to the point of being content in all circumstances? How can we develop a quiet, uncomplaining, satisfied mindset? I find that I am able to experience more contentment knowing that God is in control of my life and that His intent for me is always good. I also find contentment to be closely connected to my taking the time to express thanks each day for God’s blessings, not just general blessings, but speaking out specific blessings.
Do you desire more contentment in your life?
• Recognize the difference between the desire to improve, learn and grow and the unhealthy drive for bigger and better.
• Be aware of the feelings associated with discontentment so that you can recognize them and combat them.
• Realize that everyone goes through difficult periods but complaining and grumbling will keep you in that situation much longer than if you work to change your situation.
• Take time each day to be thankful about specific things.
• Realize where discontentment will lead and nip it in the bud.
• If you find yourself focusing on what you don’t have, walk through what you do have.
• Be happy with the unique individual that God created you to be and look for ways to use your abilities and talents to help others
Often we are so focused on what we don’t have that we fail to give thanks for what we do have. Giving thanks for what we have leads us down the path to contentment and contentment leads to peace. We can not only give thanks this November, but also strive toward contentment in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.