Monday, April 17, 2017

On Contentment

God wants us to be content. I think we all can agree on that. 

I used to think contentment was a simple matter, just be content with wherever you are in life, but I’ve recently realized that it’s rather more complicated than that. God absolutely wants us to be content within His will. Outside of His will, not so much. 

We’ve all had desires throughout our lives, desires that honor God, desires that dishonor Him, desires that are within His will, desires that are outside of it, even if they aren’t inherently wrong. If you’re anything like me, desiring something and not having it makes you discontent. Desiring to be a published author, to act in a movie, to play the violin, to have more siblings, to live on a farm, to teach music…these are all desires I’ve experienced over the years, and all of them have, at one time or other, made me discontent. 

Is it ever right to be discontent? The easy, simple answer is “no,” but I believe it’s more complicated than that. 

When I was sixteen, I began to feel it pressing on me that I needed to publish my books. I explored my options, didn’t like the ones I found, and began to wonder if this was, indeed, what I needed to do. Yet this desire to publish my books would not go away. I couldn’t shake it, I couldn’t be content to let my stories sit idly on the computer. Then finally, God put all the pieces in place for me to find the correct path for publishing my books. And I was able to be content. 

As an older child and young teen, I desperately wished for more siblings. I wanted a baby in the house, I wanted brothers, I wanted to be a part of a big family. I was discontent with the size of family God gave me. I prayed for more siblings, but finally I came to the realization that I would never get them. God showed me that He has a reason for giving me just two sisters, and I learned to be content with that. 

In my limited experience, the causes of discontent can be divided into two categories: fleshly desires and divine prompting. 

When our desire is of the flesh, it is most definitely wrong to be discontent. If it’s outside of God’s will, we have to give up that desire and submit to the Lord’s will, understanding that His way is better than our way. I had to give up my desire to have more siblings, my wish to be an actress. And being content with not having those things, because they are outside of God’s will for my life, I am much happier, and much more accepting of what God has for me. 

But when we are discontent because God is calling us to do something and we aren’t doing it, it’s a completely different story. I’ve heard about missionaries who just weren’t content at home, weren’t content until they went out into the mission field. God did not allow them to be content until they were following His calling. 

It’s hard to know whether a desire is of God or of the flesh. I am young and don’t have all the answers, but I would say that the best thing to do is to honestly and earnestly pray that God would remove those desires if they are not of Him. I can’t think of any reason why God would allow a person to continue to have sinful desires if their true wish is to honor Him. And if you’ve prayed long and hard for your desires to go away—truly wishing to serve God and honor Him—and they haven’t, I would think chances are very strong that they come from God, especially if they’ve only intensified instead. And God most certainly won’t let us be content with living our lives outside of His will. 

Yes, sometimes He’ll still make us wait—He made me wait six or seven years to learn to play the violin so He could move all the pieces into place and better prepare me for it—but that didn’t make the desire wrong. It doesn’t mean you’re sinning by being discontent. It means God is calling you to do something and He won’t let you rest until you do it. 

Strive to honor God in all that you do, in all that you wish to do. He will direct your path. He won’t let you continue in sin if you truly wish to honor Him and ask that He help you do so. And He won’t let you rest until you follow His calling. Don’t let fear or uncertainty hold you back, and don’t be so afraid that what you desire is wrong that you never do anything about it. Everything happens for a reason, even the desires of your heart. And when you lean on Him, He will direct your path.

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