Tag Archives: discontentment

The Enemy of Discontentment

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Source: quitewomen.tumblr.com

Do you ever battle discouragement or discontentment? It’s a completely normal battle in our fallen human nature, and it’s not fun, but it’s a battle that must be fought. And it’s a battle we can’t fight alone. Thankfully, we have a great God who is the only true source of courage and contentment. The past couple of weeks I’ve been battling this more than I might like to admit. Thankfully, God has been driving me back to His Word for the courage to fight the discontent (and provided sunshine and chances to chat with friends that have brightened recent days as well).

One day last week, I was reading in the Psalms and was reminded of Psalm 61.

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint [overwhelmed]. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy (Psalm 61:1-3).

I let that be my prayer throughout the afternoon and evening. And the next morning, a friend prayed Psalm 19:14.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).

It was as if God was answering my heart’s cry and showing me that He is my Rock. I said, “Lead me to the rock.” And He responded, “I am your Rock.”

Then, a still, small voice gently rebuked me and asked, “Is discontentment a meditation that is ‘acceptable’ to Jesus?” The answer was a resounding, achy, “No.” In fact, it smacks in the face of my great God and His continual provision and good, gift-giving nature. And the ultimate reality of discontentment with any aspect of our lives–whether it be looks, weight, stage of life, family, work, friends (or a lack of friends), ministry opportunities, home repairs, you name it–is discontent with what God says is “good” for us at this very moment. As the Author and personification of “good,” why is it that we think He can be anything but good? It’s because “good” is subjective instead of objective–it is subject to our point of view instead of objectively in the Person and Work of Christ.

It doesn’t matter how “good” things look from the outside. The ugly face of discontentment can raise its head up even when things appear “put together.”  You can have the nicest house and the most beautiful family, great jobs, plenty of resources, and yet still feel empty. The devil is a sneaky lion, prowling and preying on our hearts if we don’t actively fight to resist him.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (I Peter 5:8).

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

And so, we must fight. Much of this fighting is internal–it’s choosing to trust Christ, to claim His joy, to walk in His Spirit, to humble ourselves, to forgive and ask for forgiveness, to love those around us, and to praise our Savior, even when we don’t understand. We don’t have to have all the answers. We may think we want a crystal ball to see the future, but when God showed one of His prophets, Jeremiah, the future, he went into deep mourning for his people–there was a reason they called him “the weeping prophet.” God knows we don’t need to see it all up front–quite frankly, it would probably scare us if we knew all His plans. But we can rest that He does have a plan and that He’s preparing us for that plan–and sometimes that means testing us with discouraging situations, knowing that we will need to run back to His everlasting arms of hope .

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope’ (Jeremiah 29:11).

My prayer is that Psalm 30:11-12 will be my reality–and yours, if and when you find yourself battling discontentment as well.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalm 30:11-12).

(Obviously, there are physical/hormonal, emotional/psychological, and environmental reasons for discouragement as well that may be completely outside of your control. If you find yourself often discouraged and believe the source to be one of those reasons, seek appropriate help from doctors and professional counselors, as well as the spiritual encouragement and emotional support from your friends, family, and church.)

Book Review: “The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence” by Stephen Altrogge

Altrogge, Stephen. The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence. Illinois: Crossway, 2011. 143 pages.

Review: I picked this book up on sale at WTS Books a couple of months ago. It’s on sale for only about $6, and worth far more than that! The Greener Grass Conspiracy is one of the best books I’ve read in quite some time…and VERY convicting! With 12 short chapters, each ending with thought provoking questions, this book would make a perfect Bible study discussion guide! Altrogge is fresh, relevant, current, insightful–and, most of all, biblically grounded. He quotes from modern theologians and saints of old, and backs each of his points up with Scripture and Gospel Truth. This book was challenging and encouraging, convicting and refreshing, all at the same time.

So, what is the conspiracy? “This grand conspiracy of the world, Satan, and my heart is…[t]o have me always believing that the grass is greener somewhere else, always wishing that things were different, always dreaming of a brighter tomorrow without ever enjoying where God has me today” (pp. 13-14).

Here are a few quotes that stuck out specifically to me:

“Circumstances aren’t to blame. There’s something much more sinister at work. That something is my sinful, discontented heart. …The problem is me. I am my own worst enemy. The raging, covetous, discontented desires come from within. They’re not the product of my circumstances, and the desires won’t be satisfied when circumstances change” (p. 17).

“If you follow Jesus, you will have every spiritual need met. Forgiveness, adoption, spiritual strength, everything. And if we have all our spiritual needs met and are content with what we have, that is great gain” (p. 20).

“We were created for God’s glory. In other words, God put you and me on this planet to bring him glory. I exist to display his worth to the world and to show how great God really is. God is at the center of all things, and we exist for him. Not the other way around. Life is not about my ultimate happiness and self-fulfillment. Does God love me? Yes, absolutely. But he doesn’t exist for me. Everything exists by God and for God. The universe orbits around God.” and “Discontentment happens when I attempt to displace God from his rightful place at the center of the universe” (p. 24).

“Our goal isn’t contentment in and of itself. We’re not after a mystical state of Zen. Our goal is to be content for the glory and honor of God” (p. 25).

“Discontentment is the result of misplaced worship. It’s the result of giving our heart to someone or something that should never have it. When we stake our happiness on anything other than God, we’re going to be miserable. Why? Because we were made to worship God and find all our joy in him. Creation worships God (Ps. 19). The angels worship God (Isa. 6). When we worship something other than God, we’re out of sync with the universe” (p. 37).

“When we complain, we’re loudly saying that the blessings of the gospel aren’t enough. We’re saying that the death of Christ isn’t enough. We’re saying that the eternal fellowship with God, purchased at great cost to God, isn’t enough to satisfy our souls. We’re saying that forgiveness of sins and peace with God is nice, but not that nice. …We’re saying that God himself, who is the very definition of goodness, isn’t good enough. We would like a little something more, if you don’t mind. …Do you see the utter sinfulness of complaining? …God has emptied his pockets for us, and yet we complain.” and “The only way to cut the nerve of complaining is to regularly and actively remember and savor and apply the gospel” (p. 72).

“The only way to satisfy our thirsty souls is to find our satisfaction and strength in Christ” (p. 88).

“If we’re going to escape the Greener Grass Conspiracy, we must keep our eyes fixed on heaven. We can be content now because we know that very soon all of our longings will be satisfied. We can find happiness in the little we have on earth because we know of the riches that await us in heaven. We can contentedly endure suffering now because we know that soon Jesus will wipe away every tear” (p. 138).

Conclusion: Maybe you have a friend who is struggling with discontentment. Maybe you’re struggling with it even now. Maybe you don’t even realize that your responses and reactions are rooted in discontentment. Or maybe your small group is just looking for what book to study next. Regardless, this book is a must read. Pointing to Christ and His Gospel as our soul’s deepest satisfaction, this book will encourage, rebuke, exhort, uplift, and free your spirit into forsaking the misplaced worship of self and worshiping God, while rejoicing in the truth of the glory of Christ alone.