CONTENTED: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Contented Synonyms: At Ease, Satisfied, Fulfilled
At ease, I love the feeling that synonym evokes. I am at peace with myself and the world. My body is not tense, but relaxed and rested. Satisfied means we are not longing for something more. The spiritual equivalent of just finishing a great meal and feeling no hunger. And who doesn’t want to be fulfilled?
Sure, we long for contentment, but let’s get honest: How do you answer the title’s question? Most of us answer No, because we struggle finding satisfaction in this earthly life. So, welcome to the discontented club; after all, it’s been around since the beginning of time.
Remember Eve? You know she lived in paradise where she walked and talked with God! Spell CONTENTED with capital letters. Well, not so much. Satan’s prompting convinced Eve that God was holding out on her and she ate from the forbidden tree. (Genesis 3: 1—8)
Then there was Lot’s Wife who lived in ancient times. She loved her luxurious lifestyle and didn’t want to leave it, despite God sending angels to save her from the destruction of Sodom. Contentment to Lot’s wife was material possessions and fun times. So, she disobeyed the angels and looked back at the evil city she loved. Most of us know what happened next: she turned into a pillar of salt! (Genesis 19: 21—26)
Sapphira was a New Testament woman who sought being contented through financial gain. She lied about how much money she sold property for, so she could give less to the church without looking cheap. (Acts 5: 1—10)
RACHEL: THE MOST FAMOUS DISCONTENTED BIBLICAL WOMAN
“Anger is cruel and destroys like a flood, but no one can put up with jealousy” (Proverbs 27:3 NCV).
Ah, jealousy; it is the most common reason for our lack of contentment. The Bible tells us that when Rachel saw that her sister, Leah, was having children and she was not, she envied her sister. (Genesis 30:1) She even blamed her husband, Jacob, for her barren state. (Genesis 30: 1—2)
Suffice it to say; jealousy is one of Satan’s tools to cause a lack of security, lead us into sin, and rob us of joy. Satan is an expert at making us feel less contented. He attacks where we are weak and destroys our wellbeing if we allow him to do so.
SO, ARE WE DOOMED TO LACK CONTENTMENT?
Discontentment comes naturally to us humans. Christmas morning brings joy, but it isn’t long until we have another wish list. The new car smell is great, but before it wears off there is that new model that comes with better extras.
We long for a different season of life. Single women see perfect marriages. On the other side of the coin, marriage seems confining and the single life represents freedom. Children look longingly at adulthood and the elderly remember the carefree days of childhood. Mothers look forward to the empty nest days and then miss the days of young motherhood.
SO, HOW DO WE FIND CONTENTMENT?
Here are six ways to help us find contentment.
1. ACCEPT WHAT LIFE OFFERS
You know the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’ Recognize that what we see as a blessing or a curse might not be what it seems. We only see a fragment of what God is doing in our lives and in this world. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts or God’s ways our ways. Wait and see what God has planned.
Anna understood this concept. This New Testament woman was childless when widowed at a young age. Instead of getting mad at God and envying those whose lives were better, she dedicated her life to God and lived in the Temple. Her reward was seeing the Messiah when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple for the consecration and sacrifices. (Luke 2: 36—38)
This concept is entertainingly told in the story of the man who would not sell the white horse. If you aren’t familiar with this parable click here. It’s worth the read.
Then there was Dorcas, who lived by the following proverb:
“It is a sin to hate your neighbor, but being kind to the needy brings happiness” (Proverbs 14:21).
Serving others, especially women in need, was her life’s mission. Uplifting others through her charitable work of sewing for vulnerable widows, she built a community that served and loved one another.
We know little about Dorcas; however, it is difficult to imagine jealousy being part of her character. Surrounded by people who loved and cared for each other, Dorcas’s life was full.
What are you passionate about? Find your calling and serve others by feeding your passion.
Depression consumed Hannah because she longed for a child. So discouraged this young woman did not want to eat.
Like Rachel, she was barren and had a sister-wife who not only had children but taunted Hannah about her childlessness. But unlike Rachel, who blamed others, stole her father’s idols, and leaned on superstition; Hannah prayed at the Lord’s temple. In great sorrow, she wept and poured out her soul to God, and the Bible says her face was no longer downcast and she ate food. (1 Samuel Chapters 1 and 2)
When we approach God in humility and trust, He will comfort us in our time of need.
4. STAYING CLOSE TO GOD
Mary Magdalene is a great role model for staying close to God. Here is a woman who understood brokenness and surely was discontented with seven demons controlling her life. The Bible tells us Jesus cast out the demons from her, but unlike other people He healed, she stayed with Him.
Not only did she travel with Jesus, but Mark 15:40—41, tells us she cared for His needs. Later, she was one of the few that stayed beside Him as He died on the cross.
Then, in Matthew 27:61, there is the heartbreaking moment when Joseph of Arimathea placed Jesus in the tomb and rolled a stone across the entrance and left. However, Mary Magdalene stayed and watched the tomb.
Stunned by the horrific events of the last few days, I imagine her sitting at the tomb thinking about how much Jesus meant to her and all those He touched. Heartbroken and missing His company, I wonder how long she kept vigil.
Mary Magdalene stayed close by staying at Jesus’ side in good and bad times, learning from the Master Rabbi, and supporting Jesus’s ministry. (Luke 8:2-3) Do you desert God when the going gets tough? How much time do you spend in His word learning and growing in your love of Jesus? Jesus’s ministry is ongoing and still needs support through financial giving, effort, and work.
Frantic, because her daughter suffered daily seizures, this Canaanite woman sought help. Upon finding Jesus, He ignored her comparing her to a dog. Instead of pridefully turning away from this embarrassing encounter, she continued to approach Jesus with courage and persistence.
Notice that she calls Jesus “Son of David.” (Matthew 15: 21-28) This woman realized Jesus was God and she was undeserving. She used the dog analogy and accepted the crumbs that fell to the floor.
We think God is ignoring our pleas, but He desires our persistence. Does it really matter? Is it important? Don’t give up.
6. CONFESS, OPEN YOUR HEART, & SEEK THE TRUTH
Gathering at the well was the Facebook of biblical times. The women fetched water in the morning and evening and caught up on the local gossip too.
The Bible tells us about a woman who chose to come to the well at noon, instead of when the other women came for water. You see, she was a woman of ill-repute. Multiple marriages in her past were shameful enough, but living in sin with a man was scandalous and condemned by the “righteous” women. She lived her life searching for contentment in the wrong places and people.
Surprised to find Jesus hanging out at the well and shocked when He engaged her in conversation, she amazingly schooled our Savior on etiquette. A Jewish man did not talk to a strange woman in public; especially a Samaritan woman. However, Jesus persisted, and she grew excited at what she heard. (John 4:1-42)
Opening her heart to His message, she acknowledged her lifestyle. Moreover, she allowed His words to break through her avoidance of others, sharing the message of this new found truth. Once again, God uses a broken person to meet the spiritual needs of others.
Be open to hearing God speak. Perhaps you could try practicing silence so you can hear God break through. Confess what God already knows; it cleanses your soul. Share your faith and seek contentment through Jesus and spiritual endeavors rather than material and worldly pursuits.
God deals with us individually. There is no cookie-cutter way that magically brings contentment. Probably because everything you want is not best for you; that’s why God has a master plan, which we cannot comprehend. However, God assures us that He is in control, and His plan is best.
So, meditate on these verses and read and study the surrounding passages.
“Serving God makes us very rich, if we are satisfied with what we have” (1 Timothy 6: 6 NCV).
“I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens….. I can do all things through Christ, because He gives me strength” (Philipians 4: 12a & 13).
“Those who want to do right more than anything else are happy, because God will fully satisfy them (Matthew 5:6).
You can also check out another blog post that deals with this subject: Bless Me Too God .
Comments are always welcome. Tell us about your contentment level or answer one of the following questions:
What causes jealousy in your life?
What do you lean on for contentment?
How do you overcome discontentment?
Share whatever is on your mind.
Thank you for such a great post! I love how you showed both sides in the Bible of contentment and discontentment. Makes me feel validated and grateful that Jesus fills in all of our broken pieces to give us contentment!
Jesus will fulfill us if we let Him. Contentment is something we will probably struggle with all our lives, (at least I do) but these six steps can help us achieve satisfaction in Christ. Thanks for taking the time to share.