I sat silently by in my small place on the bleachers and listened. At first, I will admit, I was amused, but after a few minutes, my heart grew sad. Two couples stood nearby, chatting away, each one doing their best to sound more successful, appear more accomplished, and give the impression of being more put-together than the other. In truth—it looked exhausting. They were each working so hard, toiling endlessly for what could never satisfy.
But how often do we do the same? How much energy do we spend on the “if onlys” of life? “If only I had that house, I would be happy.” “If only I could get that job, my troubles would be over.” “If only my children were bigger…” “If only my children were smaller…” “If only my life looked more like theirs…” These times of discontentment reveal something very wrong about our hearts.
Listen to what the apostle had to say in Philippians 4:
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am 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.” (vv. 11-13)
What was Paul’s secret for contentment? He simply had a different view of reality. He had been given a different purpose. Just one chapter earlier, after giving a lengthy and impressive list of his past successes and accomplishments, listen to what he had to say about them all:
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (3:8-9)
Paul understood what we so often forget—our reality must be Christ Himself. He must reign supreme on the throne of our hearts, and He must be the true object of our love. You could say our discontentment is directly linked to idolatry. In our moments of discontentment, we actually love something more than Christ.
Ruth Chou Simons said, “At the root of my discontentment is what I love most…and without my loves being reordered and remade by Christ, I will always chase endlessly after what was never meant to satisfy.”
We must cry out to the Lord to change our hearts—to give us new loves. We must pray fervently as the old Irish hymn says,
“Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light
Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise
Thou mine inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.”