Last week, my family and I were on vacation in Rehoboth, DE. At one point on our trip, my sister and I were sitting outside on the patio. She said to me, “7 days never feels like long enough. Next summer, we need to take a longer trip.” Naturally, my mind began to wander. What if we took a 10-day trip? Or 14? What if we could take an entire month off? Would we really be ready to go home on day 10? 14? 30?
No one is ever ready to go home after vacation. Going home means setting alarms, driving to work, running the vacuum, taking down the garbage, and running errands. Going home means returning to our normal lives where we can’t sit on the beach all day. No matter how long a trip you take, you’ll always be somewhat disappointed when it’s time to return to your humdrum life.
We seem to convince ourselves that contentment is just a little further away. We just need to lose 5 more pounds. We just need 5 more minutes of sleep. We just need to make a little more money. If we just had a slightly bigger house. If we just got a few more days on vacation. THEN, and only then, only after getting a little more…then, we’d be content? That’s probably not true at all.
To be clear, because I have a feeling this will come up; no, it’s not wrong to set goals. If your goal weight is 5 pounds away, it’s not wrong to want to lose those last 5 pounds. It’s not a sin to want to own a home or get a promotion. Those things aren’t inherently bad. What is a problem is thinking our contentment can only be found in the hypothetical. This is how we get lured into discontented waters.
When we’re dealing with discontentment, the first problem is that we’re ignoring all that we’ve been commanded to do. Our primary function as Christians is to love God and love neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). One of the best remedies for discontentment is to take some of our focus off ourself. Be a good steward and consider helping someone who needs it. Serving others is one of the best ways to cure a discontented heart.
We also consider that discontentment and thankfulness cannot coexist. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we’re commanded to be thankful in all things. Discontentment, essentially, is the feeling that we didn’t get quite enough. We deserved a little bit more. You don’t need to apologize for all that God has given you. You do, however, need to be thankful.
While we were on vacation, I actually remember asking my oldest daughter if she was having a good time. She actually snapped back at me and said, “No, not really.” That ungrateful attitude my kids throw at me is like nails on a chalkboard. Yet, how many times do I throw that attitude in God’s face? If I was standing face to face with God and He asked me if I enjoyed my 7 days at the beach, I would not respond by saying I really wish I would’ve had 10 days. Sadly, more often than not, that is my exact attitude.
Additionally, the joy and the peace we have in Christ is not dependent upon our circumstances. The Apostle Paul speaks of contentment in Philippians 4. I reference that chapter a bit because I really think it needs drilled into our heads. The hope we have in Christ can be found in even the deepest pain. No vacation, no weight-loss program, no 401k can compete with that.
If you’re convinced you’ll be content when you have just a little bit more; you’ll never actually be content. A little bit more will end up being slightly more than what you currently have. Instead, understand that no matter what life is throwing at you…Jesus is enough.