I was looking over my journal from the past year, and I noticed a reoccurring theme. In almost every entry, I mentioned my frustration with not being content. I was upset about my lack of contentment as an unmarried person. I was discontent with the number of singles my age at church. I even vented about not being content about my level of contentment!
To put it in a nutshell: I had some major frustration about finding contentment in the Lord. I wanted it desperately, but I felt like I was chasing after the end of a rainbow.
Looking back, I realize that I wanted contentment more than I wanted Christ. I was making contentment an idol in my life. I read every article Boundless had to offer on contentment … and read them again … and again. They were wonderful articles, but I wasn’t becoming any more content. In my effort to become content, I was focusing more on contentment than I was on Christ. I found myself reading about contentment instead of reading God’s Word. My main goal was to be content, when really my main mission should have been to get to know Christ more intimately. I wanted to be content so I would feel good. I wanted to be content so I wouldn’t feel like a “bad Christian.” I desired contentment more than anything or anyone else, yet it still evaded me.
I couldn’t fix my chronic discontentment because I was merely trying to treat a symptom instead of the cause. I thought that the thing that would “cure” me was contentment. But the only true cure is Jesus Christ. The real problem was that I was not loving Jesus with all my heart; there was a little corner of my heart that was devoted to my desire for contentment.
I now realize that if I seek Him first, everything else will fall into place (including contentment). I don’t need to try harder to be content or try harder to be joy-filled or try harder to be anything. I need to put all my heart, soul, mind and strength into knowing and following God. Contentment is not something I can conjure up from within myself. It is not something that I can “will” myself to feel. I cannot create contentment in my heart if I just try hard enough. Contentment is a gift that God gives us when we are seeking Him alone.
Now, a year later, I am learning to look to God for contentment instead of looking to myself. I am striving to make my relationship with Jesus my focus rather than contentment. Since I have started putting this into practice, guess what. I have started to become content. Of course I’m not content 100 percent of the time. There are times when I don’t feel content, and I am tempted to beat myself up or tell myself what a failure I am. Whenever I feel that way, I remind myself of what Jesus said in Matthew 6:
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? …But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (vs 25, 26, 33, NASB).
I used to think that this passage was talking strictly about material needs. But now I think it means so much more. If Jesus cares even about our material needs, than surely He cares a great deal more about our spiritual needs. This passage is a promise to me that if I seek Christ first, then He will give me everything I need, and that includes the gift of contentment. Because after all, if even humans know how to give good gifts to each other, then our Father in heaven certainly knows how to give us good gifts.
So from now on, I’m not focusing on being content. I’m focusing on Christ.
Michelle Sargent is a private music teacher who enjoys being a part of local church ministries in her hometown of Glenwood, Iowa.
Copyright 2014 Michelle Sargent. All rights reserved.