Survivor Series: The Winter of Our Discontent
The Apostle Paul stated in Philippians, “For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Pastor Ed this past weekend took us through verses in Proverbs addressing contentment. What is clear to me is we live in a culture and society that is fully immersed in our winter of discontent. This discontent in large part is a learned behavioral condition. In contrast to Paul, we have learned discontent. So where did we learn this you may be asking? Let me cut to the chase.
We are told in so many aspects of our lives we are not adequate, we can have more, and we can be happy if we just have this one thing. Whether the matter is material, physical, emotional, professional, intellectual or even spiritual we are bombarded by questions of inadequacy fueling our fears. We are told “we can have it all” but reality for most is it is out of reach. It is out of reach because we keep reaching for the wrong thing. This is a story as old as time. Parading as light Satan has spread his lies. He told Adam and Eve they could be more if they did this “one thing.” Adam and Eve did not rest and be secure in relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Instead they believed the lie that what they had with God was insufficient and they were less and could be more. Satan is so bold that he even fired the same nature of questions at Jesus in the wilderness – “if you are the son of God . . . .” Human ingenuity has taken this lie and run with it in countless ways. Of course there is innovation, advancement and vast improvement in living conditions but I am speaking of the embedded lie that God is not adequate and we must find “better.” Figuratively Satan has substituted that first “apple” for the dream of an Apple iPhone X.
Paul says he has learned the “secret” of contentment. He is content because he knows without doubt the deep and abiding relationship he has with Jesus Christ. As long as he has Christ he can overcome, endure, and be content in whatever circumstance he may find himself traversing. The life of Paul truly and literally is the story of riches to rags, from safety to shipwreck, respectability to being reviled and back again. The Bee Gees once sang, “How deep is your love?” Paul writes of Jesus, For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NASB) For Paul, Christ’s love is and was deeper than deep could ever be.
I am challenged to learn to be content thus I must discern where my discontent is derived. If I only had that Tesla Model S I would feel like I had made it. If I only had that salary I would feel worthwhile. If I only had that QLED TV I would be admired. If I only had that relationship I would feel secure. If I only had (you can substitute whatever item you seek) then I would temporarily fill what only the deep abiding love of God was created to fill. If it’s all about me and my attempt to quell that eternal lie that God is insufficient to love me and delight in me however this lie manifests itself then rethinking is in order. Proverbs 3:3-4 says, “Do not let kindness and truth leave you. Bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find good repute in the sight of God and man.”