By Phillip Holmes

On the outside, Chloe appears to have it all together. She is single, has a career, and is fairly active in her local church. But she’s lonely, disenchanted by her career, and feels detached from her church. The shell that her peers admire conceals her discontentment and joyless Christianity.

Chloe had envisioned a different life for herself. By now, she thought she’d be in her prime, but she’s found herself in a pit of misery. She thought she’d be married, still connected to her college friends, raising a family, and mentoring younger Christian women. But her present reality disappointed her expectations. Her discontentment has led her down a dark path of sin, searching for relief, but only finding death.

Chloe’s only hope of curing her discontentment and unhappiness is learning the art of contentment and embracing a biblical view of God. Those two things are essential for her joy.

Chloe represents many Christians struggling to cope with the hand they’ve been dealt. Every morning, Christians across the country wake up discontent with life – singleness, marriage, career, church, or community – and wish they could trade it for a different one.

Our discontentment leads to wishful but hopeless thinking. We attempt to replace and eliminate anything that we perceive is linked to our discontentment:

  • “I hate being single, so I should settle.”
  • “My spouse doesn’t satisfy me, so I should get a new one.”
  • “My job isn’t fulfilling, so I should quit.”
  • “My church isn’t exciting, so I should leave.”
  • “Life is full of misery, so I should end it.”
  • “God doesn’t make me happy, so I should reject him.”

However, the problem is not with singleness, marriage, job, church, or God. The human heart is impossible to satisfy. We always want more. Life could always be better. Our dissatisfaction will inevitably lead us into a cycle of sin, guilt, and depression if left unchecked. In order to break this deadly cycle, the pursuit of joy is essential.

If we joyfully interpret everything that happens – sickness, death, loss, poverty – as actions of mercy rather than judgement, it will transform the way we live as Christians. We must look to God’s inerrant word to find comfort that he indeed loves us and does good toward us. Scripture says, 

  • God is the one who helps; therefore, we have nothing to fear. (Isaiah 41:13)
  • God’s love is displayed and proven when he sent his Son to die for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
  • Nothing can separate us from God’s love — absolutely nothing. (Romans 8:35–39)
  • God loves us with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)
  • Jesus loves us with the same love that the Father loves him. (John 15:9)

Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, was a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). He was despised and rejected by men, suffered and died for crimes he was innocent of, and soaked up the wrath of God for sins he never committed. God ordained all this. Why? Because God loves us (John 3:16). And since he loves us, we should expect to suffer in this life just as Christ suffered, because “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3–5).

But thank God that, even “as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Corinthians 1:5).

 

Think and Pray

Our ability to interpret God’s actions towards us as good is inevitably tied to our contentment and joy. If we’re unable to see his providence as good, we will never be content, and without contentment, we will never fully know the joy he has for us.

Father, help me to be content with the mercies You’ve already shown me and praise You for what You’ve already done for me. Let the hardships I go through remind me that this is not my home and produce in me an even greater hope in me as I await the day You make all things new. Amen.

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Phillip Holmes served as a content strategist at desiringGod.org. He is the Director of Communications at Reformed Theological Seminary and a finance coach and blogger through his site Money Untangled​. He and his wife, Jasmine, have a son, and they are members of Redeemer Church in Jackson, Mississippi.

 

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