This past Sunday, I was in a mood. Nothing sounded fun, nothing was making me happy. No matter what I did, I still felt… blech. So I had a talk with myself.
Me: Self, what’s your problem?
Myself: I am NOT happy.
Me: What do we need to make us happy?
Myself: Well, I could probably be happy if I was just done with school.… Or maybe if Benjamin weren’t so busy…Or if I had a baby to cuddle… But otherwise, happiness is just out of the question.
And my pouty self continued to pout.
As I was having this conversation, though, a niggling, wiggling feeling in the back of my mind was trying to tell me that God doesn’t leave my joy in the hands of circumstance. That’s when the word “discontent” inserted himself in the conversation. What? Discontent? Me? I’m a Christian! I always talk about God’s blessings! How can I be discontented?
But I was. I wasn’t longing for money or prestige or any of the usual things we associate with discontent, but I wasn’t filling myself up with Christ. Instead, I was grasping for fulfillment elsewhere (in free time, time with my husband, and babies).
Isaiah 26:3 says, speaking to God, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.” On a similar note, Matthew 6:33 says we should, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Our minds are powerful tools that God has given us the freedom to wield. We can focus our thoughts on the problems and the don’t-haves, or we can focus them on God. We are told that if we “seek first the kingdom” and keep our minds “stayed on” God, then we will be kept in “perfect peace.” Oh, peace… Isn’t that exactly what we are longing for most when we feel that discontent?
Not only that, but Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Wait what? Is school over already? Benjamin, stop working! God is giving me all the desires of my heart! It’s time to party! … Not exactly. This verse is misconstrued this way all. the. time. If you just love God, He will give you anything you ask for, people say. But if you recall, those desires that I listed were the desires of my sinning heart. When we seek God, we will want His will, His peace, and His love above anything and everything else. He will be our desire, and we will feel so fulfilled in Him. All of the godly desires of our hearts will be filled when we delight ourselves in God.
And how do I know that we are able to delight ourselves in God no matter what our circumstances are? Well, there was this guy named Paul (perhaps you’ve heard of him?) who is pretty famous for saying, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Philippians 4:12). In his lifetime he was beaten, shipwrecked, arrested, you name it, for the name of Jesus. Yet he was still content! He said himself in verse 11, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” If he can be content in Christ alone, whom he was suffering for, then anyone can be content. Even me on grumpy Sunday afternoons.
The point of all of this is that God doesn’t want to keep us from happiness when he says “no” to things that we want. He is guiding us to what is better because He loves to bless us (in His wise way and His wise time). Instead of pouting that life isn’t exactly how we would like it to be, we should be abiding and resting in God’s love for us, trusting Him that He knows best, and looking to Him as the source of our joy (John 15:4). A deep relationship with God is what we are really desiring and He is the only one who can fill that longing. No Earthly thing can do it. Only Jesus.
Lysa Terkeurst said it really, really well when she said this:
“Food can fill our stomachs but never our souls. Possessions can fill our houses but never our hearts. Sex can fill our nights but never our hunger for love. Children can fill our days but never our identities. Jesus wants us to know only He can fill us and truly satisfy us. He really wants us to know that.”
Only Him. Only Jesus. Fix our eyes.
(Linked up on Faith Filled Friday)