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Beating discontentment

Aug 13, 2020

Your normal holiday plans have been shelved. The kids will be doing school online again. The project at work is cancelled because there’s no funding for it. Yes, you love your family, but all the extra time at home with one another can be exhausting. Discontentment is something that all of us encounter from time to time, but more recently it might feel like it’s been stalking you; an ever-present shadow affecting your mood and robbing you of joy. So, what do you do about it?

Name it. The first step in winning a battle is identifying the enemy. Identify why you’re unhappy. Normally, you can trace the discontentment back to something that you really want that you don’t have: a delayed gratification, the loss of control, a lack of recognition, a denied entitlement.

Discontentment is a reminder of your need for grace.

Confess it. Almost always discontentment comes because you’re putting your happiness in something or someone more than God. It has a hold of your heart more than God does. Let’s call a spade a spade. It’s sin. Say to God, ‘This frustration is showing me that I’m chasing after something more than I’m seeking you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me for forgetting who you are and all that you’ve done for me.’ Confession is a daily part of the Christian life. It allows you to examine your life and find sins that you would otherwise be too insensitive or too busy to acknowledge.

Accept it. Discontentment is a reminder of your need for grace. No matter how long you’ve walked with Jesus, you will always need his grace. You’ll be confronted with your sins but also with Jesus’ goodness, that his grace rescues you time and time again.

Receive it. Wisdom comes with recognising that the things of this world cannot satisfy you in the way that only God can. You were built to find your joy and contentment in him. When you find discontentment creeping into your heart, remind yourself to look to Jesus to find your desires satisfied. Then you can echo the psalmist’s words, ‘My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? … Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God’ (Psalm 42:2, 5).

Alex McCoy
Vicar

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