On Memorial Day 2011, Michael and I bought our dream home. It was in the country yet less than an hour from the city. Lots of land, gorgeous views, stunning kitchen. It was all I wanted in a home.
Every step of the choosing and buying process was blessed and was free of major bumps. God was opening the doors and we simply walked through.
Our life was comfortable living in Comfort, TX (really).
Like every woman, I wanted to freeze this moment and stay here forever.
But, God had bigger plans for us than our dreamy life of comfort.
The Lord had planted a seed in Michael back in 2009, and a very beautiful plant was beginning to emerge.
It became clear after a sermon on the disciples leaving their nets behind that my husband needed to go to seminary. Not just any seminary (like one of the two just six hours away from us in the same state) but the one that best fit our theological beliefs. And that meant moving to southern California.
I was excited to jump on this new path God had for us.
I was my husband’s biggest supporter in this decision. After all, yes we were moving but we were keeping our dream home and we’d come home for the summers and eventually move right back into our life of comfort. At least that’s what I told myself.
Our family was full of anticipation for this new journey. We arrived in California, settled into our new house, found a local church and finally started to find “normal”.
That is when I hit the brick wall of desperation, sadness, longing and insecurity. For me, the root problem was DISCONTENTMENT. I thought I was happy with the move. I didn’t think I’d miss my mom as much as I did. This new life was…different.
How does one know if they are discontent?
In The Art of Divine Contentment Thomas Watson writes:
“There are three things which contentment banishes out of its diocese, and which can by no means dwell with it.”
1. Contentment excludes a vexatious repining.
Murmuring is properly the daughter of discontent. “I mourn in my complaint.” (Psalm 55:2) He does not say “I murmur in my complaint.” Murmuring is no better than mutiny in the heart; it is a rising up against God. When the sea is rough and unquiet—it casts forth nothing but foam. Just so, when the heart is discontented—it casts forth the foam of murmuring, anger, and impatience! Murmuring is nothing else, but the scum which boils off from a discontented heart!
2. Contentment excludes an uneven discomposure.
When a man says, “I am in such straits, that I know not how to evolve or get out, I shall be undone!” When his head and heart are so distracted, that he is not fit to pray or meditate, etc. When he is not himself—just as when an army is routed, one man runs this way, and another that, the army is put into disorder; so a man’s thoughts run up and down distracted, discontent dislocates and unjoints the soul, it pulls off the wheels.
3. Contentment excludes a childish despondency.
This is usually consequent upon the other. A man being in a hurry of mind, not knowing which way to extricate, or wind himself out of the present trouble, begins to faint and sink under it. For worry is to the mind as a burden to the back; it loads the spirits, and with overloading, sinks them. A despondent spirit is a discontented spirit.”
I was doing a lot of murmuring, I stopped reading the Bible, my prayers were flat, and I freely gave in to the overwhelming burden I was carrying.
Lest you think me wise to have diagnosed my own sin, it was my husband who saw the desperate need I was in. He suggested we begin reading The Art of Divine Contentment together. Praise the Lord I had someone willing to fight with me during this bleak time of my life.
Have you ever been discontent or are you now?
You are not lost! Discontentment can be a deep, dark well but THERE IS A WAY OUT. As Christians we have a ladder! Each rung of the ladder is Scripture held together by the Holy Spirit. He is the strength and the Word is the footing we need to get back on solid ground.
God’s Word is fully sufficient for every season, emotion and struggle.
The Art of Divine Contentment is saturated in Scripture and finds its foundation in Philippians 4:11-13.
“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13
Philippians 4 is, to this humble servant, one the richest chapters in the Bible. I cannot read Philippians and not repent of my self-imposed turmoil.
I do not simply prescribe reading Philippians 4 and The Art of Divine Contentment for an instant cure to your condition. Without earnest, pleading, tearful prayer on a daily basis the beast of discontentment will not retreat.
Our minds are stubborn! We must kill those sinful emotions and we must desire with every fiber of our being to glorify God.
Glorifying God means (among many other things):
- giving thanks in all things (1Thess 5:18),
- rejoicing in the Lord (Phil 4:4),
- dwelling or thinking on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise (Phil 4:8),
- doing nothing from selfishness and look to the interest of others (Phil 2:3-4)
Thomas Watson is an easy to read Puritan and I highly recommend this book to anyone in any walk of life that is feeling unsettled and lacking joy.
Through prayer, Scripture and godly writings I climbed out of that well but I didn’t do it alone. If you would like someone to help you find contentment I would be honored to walk with you. Please comment here or contact me through Facebook (autumnbeck).