Thursday, June 22, 2006

Struggling With Discontentment

I always enjoy being in my home country, but inevitably I feel unsettled and unhappy with my life. Recently I was with a couple of guys who were telling me about their homes, their vacations and their investments. There is nothing wrong with any of this, but then I begin comparing what I have, or more to the point, what I don’t have, to others. If I wasn’t a nomad, bouncing all over God’s planet, and would settle down in the US, perhaps I would be content. Then again…naw, I probably wouldn’t. But discontent in not being content drives me to write this blog.

The Scriptures (1 Timothy 6:6) tell us that having godly contentment is great gain. Random thoughts on contentment:

• Contentment is not something to achieve…it’s a process. The prayer of the frustrated, “Lord give me patience and give it to me NOW,” doesn’t work. Contentment and patience often work hand-in-hand.

• If one cannot be content in their present state they probably will never be content. Ask anyone who sought fame and found it, or fortune and became rich, most of the time they die lonely. Contentment is a state of mind, not a goal to achieve.

• Our culture is rooted in discontent (capitalism exports discontent). A thousand voices yell at me each day saying, “If you just had this, you’d be happy.” The genius of capitalism is that it markets a necessity that you really don’t need. It’s called an illusion.

• Interestingly, Hindu’s (dharma) and Muslims Inshaallah (the will of God) are a form of contentment based on fatalism. They are not happier, they are just resigned.

• Unchecked ambition pulls one off balance from being centered in contentment. Nothing wrong with ambition until one strives for the prize, which in the end, will never satisfy.

• On the other end of the spectrum is the idleness disguised as being passively content. You’re not content, you’re just lazy squandering God given ability.

Paul also says (6:8), having food and clothing we should be content. I may not have the best food or clothing, but I sure have it better than many of the people I work with every day outside the US. Wisdom plans for the future, but does not strive to attain that which will always be out of reach. If we work to seek first the things of God, the other things will take care of itself.