Last week we looked at how comparison keeps us from being contented. If you missed it you can read that post here. Today we will look at a second big issue that causes us discontentment: our circumstances.
If only…what if…iif I had…if I lived…if I was….THEN I would be content with my life. Have you ever said, “it must be nice…..”?
In her book, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free, author Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth says we believe this: “If my situation was different, I would be different.” We always seem to be searching for that elusive state of bliss in life.
In the scripture we looked at last week in Genesis 29 we saw Leah thinking, “If only I had a (or another) child, then Jacob would love me and I’d be happy.” But each time she has a child, it’s not enough. Rachel who has Jacob’s love, also believes that she will be happy if only she could have a child.
I have two friends in similar life circumstances. One, although she’d love to be in a different situation, is content and joyful where she is today. The other is not. She continually thinks about how content she would be if her circumstance was better, at least from her perspective.
When I experienced infertility in my early 20s, not only did I compare myself to friends having a baby, or their second or third, but I also said, “If only I could get pregnant, then I’d be happy and could really move forward with my life purpose of not only being married (which I was) but also raising my children. God showed me I would only move from discontentment to contentment by laying my infertility on His altar, trusting Him with whatever He chose for us. My purpose was not MY PLAN, but HIS, and that was what I was to pursue…knowing Him fully and becoming like Him. He was the one who would decide how I was to live that out. I was to be content whether we had children or not.
Through a tough season in vocational ministry, I learned that I would not always “feel” fulfilled, but I was always to be faithful. Ministry and serving Christ had been an incredible and unexpected part of my spiritual journey. I’d always been fulfilled in serving before, so this season made me very uncomfortable. But as I eventually chose to be obedient until He told me to do something different (which was YEARS after, when I retired in 2017), I began to grow deeper in my faith. I realized God was the one who got to decide how long I was to serve in a particular place, not me.
Have you ever said or even thought I would be content if only:
- I had a job, or a better paying job
- I had a baby or another baby
- I didn’t have these kids
- I had a more loving husband
- I had a husband
- I was single
- I had more energy
- I’d had different parents
- I looked like HER or had what she has
- I had more hours in the day to get it all done
- I could let Calgon take me away every night
- I had good hair..another house…a better church
I’ve said so many of these. This is what the devil wants us to believe: we must have this different circumstance to be content. He made Eve think the same thing: “If I could only have that one fruit God says we cannot eat…then I’d be happy.” (Genesis 3) NOT! IT’S A LIE!!
How do people people have peace after tornado or flood destroys everything they own? How do the poor in Nicaragua have unbelievable joy even as they continue to wonder if loved ones survived the civil war in that country in 1970s. I saw this when I traveled there on a mission trip in the early 1990s and marveled at their faith. They had almost no earthly things, but they had Jesus and so, they had joy.
Elisabeth Elliot (whose husband Jim was killed by Auca Indians in Ecuador as they sought to bring Christ to that tribe and whose 2nd husband died after 4 years of marriage) once said, “The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.” Oh, God, may we say the same thing! He alone is the source of peace, joy, contentment and joy on earth…no matter what our circumstances are.
Next week we will discuss a third major area of discontentment in life…crisis that appears to go on FOREVER!