I’m awoken to the sound of my alarm ringing
I open my eyes, and look at the ceiling. I grab my phone and check the time.
I groan as I think of what is ahead of me.
You should just get up now, you’ll feel better about getting up now rather than later.
I mean, yeah you’ll still be tired but you won’t be rushing.
But sleep. Sleep is my one escape from the never-ending schedule of today. It’s a place to hide from my to-do list. This is the best part of my day.
But you still have to do all those things, so you better get up now so you don’t feel even more guilty later.
Ugh, you’re right.
I rise from my bed, already dreary and tired. I look at my phone to distract me from how much I don’t want to do today. But distraction can’t fix the discontentment in my soul.
Have you ever been here? From the very advent of your day, you are unhappy and unmotivated. There is a lingering restlessness that won’t seem to go away.
Day after day, I ask myself
Why am I here? Is there a purpose to all of this? Will I ever be happy?
When these thoughts ring around in the echo-chamber of my mind, it can be hard to do daily tasks. This deep-seated discontentment is hard to shake.
Even though it might not feel like it, we are not alone in this discontentment. Even people in the Bible dealt with it.
"You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” -Genesis 3:4-5
So, how does Eve experience discontentment here? She was surrounded by good! She could do anything at all, except that one thing. The serpent told her that what God gave her was not good enough. I think we’ve all fallen for that lie one time or another.
“… for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” -Philippians 4:11b-13
You’ve probably heard this verse said before you do something big, like start that new job or try and win your high school football game.
What if what Paul is saying here is not literally, “I can do anything,” but, “because of Jesus my hope is not in my present circumstances”. Paul doesn’t say that He knows God will feed him, so he’s fine. He doesn’t say he finds contentment in that God will give him whatever he wants. He finds contentment despite his circumstances.
What does this mean though? How, when I am dreading my day-to-day life, can God give me strength?
Perhaps, first of all, He strengthens us through our belief in this promise: we can be content through Christ. It is a promise, and we ought to trust in it as one. When I’m lying in bed wondering how on earth I can do it, I can go back to the promise: Christ strengthens me. In Him, I can find contentment each day. God, today I’m not feeling like I can be the joyful, peaceful, content Christian you’ve made me to be. But you say I can in Christ. Thank you, Lord, for your promise. Thank you that I’m not alone in this struggle. When I replace my bored or hopeless thoughts with God’s promises, I begin to find strength flowing back into me. Already I’m feeling a little better.
Discontentment is largely a result of (often unintentional) blindness to the good gifts God has already given. I’m surrounded by His blessings every day, even in times of immense hardship. There’s a reason the Bible reminds us over and over and over again to give thanks: 1) we tend to forget to do this, and 2) there are always things to be thankful for! If I take time to count just my material blessings, I find the list quite long. And none of that holds a candle to the spiritual blessings God has given me through Christ! Forgiveness, adoption, deliverance from death and sin, reconciliation with himself, empowerment by his Holy Spirit, purpose, unconditional love… and that’s just the shortlist. Reflecting on God’s blessings is the greatest enemy of discontentment. I don’t have time to grumble when I’m praising.
In the midst of difficulty or boredom, I have to remember God is in control. God promises to work all things “for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). As a Christian, I love God (or at least, I’m starting to). Therefore, God’s working this circumstance for my good. I’m supposed to be right here, right now, and God is working, right here, right now. There’s immense peace to be found in that promise. My circumstances aren’t all wrong. He’s making them right. God’s got me.
One of the best things for me to remember when I’m struggling with discontentment is that God’s primary concern isn’t to make life easy for me. God loves me. He proved it by sending his Son to die for me. And, because he loves me, Scripture tells me he’s doing a good work in me. God’s primary goal for me isn’t to make me comfy and cozy, it’s to make me into what he made me to be: a child of God in Christ’s likeness. Scripture tells us God also builds our character and our endurance into the likeness of Jesus through suffering (Romans 5:3-4) When I’m facing difficulty, I can find hope in the fact that God can work through this very struggle to make me more like Jesus. And who doesn’t want to be like Jesus? He is literally the best person ever. As painful as the process may be, if I get to be like Jesus at the end of it, it’s going to be worth it. So, so worth it. In that, I can rejoice.
These are truths. Truths that are hard to reflect on when you’re already tired and Satan says to just sit in your sadness. This all takes work and prayer, and sometimes it might feel like it doesn’t make a difference. Sometimes our feelings don’t listen to what our mind knows is true. This struggle doesn’t have a quick fix. But God is with us. He is bigger. Bigger than all of it. Even when it feels like He is far away, and even when my emotions make it feel like they are bigger than He is. That’s a lie. He is bigger, He is working, and He is faithful. Forever and ever.
Carlita also offers us a prayer:
Lord God, thank you that you’re in control, right here and right now. Thank you that I can trust you with all the struggles I’m facing. Thank you for your promises, your blessings, your peace, and the work that you’re doing in me. Help me to remember these truths, Lord, even when my flesh cries out that things aren’t right, and that I deserve ease, comfort, and fun. Help me to remember that I naturally pursue death, but that you’ve given me life in Christ. In this knowledge, help me to rejoice. You deserve my praise. Amen.