My Discontented Heart

Atlanta 2012 231

Crunch. The sound of my shoes echoes with each step. I look down at the leaves covering the forest floor. It’s as though the trees have disrobed and blanketed the trail with their golden hued cloaks. As I walk, leaves continue to rain down around me. Wearing shades of yellow, red, and brown, they dance in the rays of light that shine across my path.

This is the place where I feel most alive. The air is crisp and cool but my hike up and down the mountain trail keeps me warm. Feeling like a child, I pick up the pace and race the kids down the path. I marvel at God’s handiwork all around me, his glory awakening my dull senses. I think about how the autumnal transformation in the trees is really the revealing of their true colors. No longer producing food, they lose their verdant hue, uncovering the deep reds, bright yellows, and rustic orange shades that now dot the landscape.

I always thought I’d live in the mountains but instead I live by the sea. The disparity between the longings of my heart, of being where I feel most alive, and the place God has put me these past seventeen years is wide. Overtime my discontentment has grown and spread, breeding bitterness, selfishness, and anger. For my heart, discontentment has been like a slow leak, gradually draining me of joy and peace.

leaves

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” “Bloom where you are planted.” These proverbial statements are spoken to encourage us to make the best of what we have. It is certainly good advice, but it doesn’t get at the source of true contentment. We can’t just resolve to be content or “think happy thoughts” to dispel unhappy ones. Rather our contentment must be built on something more solid, more sure, and more lasting. Because the truth is, we are weak. Our resolve fades. The sin in our hearts leads us astray until we are right back where we started.

The Apostle Paul spoke about contentment in Philippians. “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13). For Paul, Christ was the source of his contentment. He knew that to live was Christ and to die was gain (Philippians 1:21).

The truths of gospel, of who he was because of Christ’s perfect life, sacrificial death, and resurrection, were the foundation on which he stood. Paul knew that whether he lived with plenty or didn’t know where his next meal came from, he was secure in Christ. Because the Spirit of Christ lived in him, he had all he needed. In every situation, the Spirit strengthened him to face trials and tribulations. His security, joy, purpose, and satisfaction was in Christ, not his circumstances. This is the secret to contentment–not lemonade or blooming flowers or happy thoughts.

My discontentment comes from the same place as that of the discontent of the desert-wandering Israelites. My heart has turned away from its true love. I’ve attempted to fulfill my soul-thirst with something other than the pure living water that Christ died to give me. I’m focused on the comforts and cares of this life and not the one to come. I’ve failed to remember all that God did to deliver me from slavery and instead of living a life of gratitude, my heart only grumbles and complains.

Scripture points me to the way of true and lasting contentment. Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” When Christ is my delight and my source of joy, it changes the trajectory of my heart. What Christ wants, I want. Instead of looking at what I don’t have, my heart rejoices in all that I do have because of and through him. Love and gratitude transforms my desires so that they revolve around him and what pleases him. And like, Paul, no matter the circumstances, my well of contentment is deep and overflowing, for it flows freely from its source in Christ himself.

God places us in circumstances and situations that we often don’t understand. Sometimes he doesn’t give us what we want because he knows what we really need is not a change in situation but more of him. The more we grow to depend and trust in him, the more we find our joy in knowing him, and the more we seek him above all else, the more we will appreciate the manna he provides. Our grumbles will cease. Rather than complain about the challenges of life, we’ll look to Christ for contentment, security, and peace. All our desert wanderings will create in us a longing not for the slavery of the past but the glory of forever rest found in the Promised Land.

As I consider the beauty of the trees in autumn, my heart longs to bring my Creator glory in how I live. When seasons of winter lie before me, I want to reflect the radiance of Christ. Like the trees in fall, I want to live out my calling in submissive and joyful obedience. I want to find my contentment in being a redeemed daughter of the King, not in my circumstances, dreams, or plans. Will I ever move to the mountains? I don’t know. But I do know that not being where I long to be is a reminder of how this world is not my home. My true, forever home still awaits. And as long as Christ remains the joy and treasure of my heart, I will be content wherever I am because he is with me.

“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” Psalm 27:4

 How about you? Has discontent drained your heart of joy?

 

 

 

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14 Comments on My Discontented Heart

  1. Judy Sapusek
    November 11, 2013 at 8:20 am (9 months ago)

    Hi Christina…enjoyed this… I just spoke to r Engedi group about contentment! Shared many of the same ideas and scriptures!

    Reply
    • toshowthemjesus
      November 11, 2013 at 11:50 am (9 months ago)

      Thanks, Judy! And it was nice seeing you here:)

      Reply
  2. Renee
    November 11, 2013 at 11:14 am (9 months ago)

    I struggle with what looking to Jesus looks like practically when going through big life changes you don’t like. You still have to spend your time doing something instead of lying around on the couch like I have been doing. I have about 5 major changes at once – empty nest and husband retiring early are just two. I feel no purpose like I used to with busy household. How do I stay content while waiting for God to show me what is next?

    Reply
    • toshowthemjesus
      November 11, 2013 at 11:49 am (9 months ago)

      I know just what you mean. That is a question I’ve asked myself many times. The conclusion I’ve come to is that when I don’t know what lies ahead, I must be faithful in the moment I’m in. This is hard for me because I’m a planner and I want to be prepared for the future. But God tells me that the future is safe in his hands, I must trust him and wait on him. It’s truly one of the hardest steps of faith. Praying that He strengthens you for each moment and gives you the direction you need.

      Reply
      • Renee
        November 11, 2013 at 12:49 pm (9 months ago)

        Thank you so much – I like the part about being faithful in the moment I’m in. I will work on that.- I need some type of schedule to do that I think… I appreciate your prayers. I spiraled down into depression in August and trying to dig out..I’ve come a long way since August, but still not there… Change is so hard!! My husband and I bought property in another state and he wants to live there 1/2 year part time. I had no friends, no church work etc so didn’t do well there – another huge change. He loved it. I don’t want to spoil his dream. Do you or anyone out there have an “easy depression” schedule? Sounds dumb, but I need some framework to get myself going. Every small task seems so hard. I don’t have enough to do now, but don’t do the things I COULD do…

        Reply
        • toshowthemjesus
          November 11, 2013 at 6:52 pm (9 months ago)

          You are right, a schedule can be helpful to get one motivated. Having a regular routine of waking and sleeping times, Bible reading times, exercise, work, etc. is a good idea. In my house, I don’t have to worry about making a schedule, my kids provide the routine for my life:) A routine is a good place to start. Blessings to you!

          Reply
  3. Sybil Brun
    November 11, 2013 at 4:53 pm (9 months ago)

    Loved this! Thanks for such awesome encouragement!

    Reply
    • toshowthemjesus
      November 12, 2013 at 5:44 am (9 months ago)

      Thanks for visiting!

      Reply
  4. Melissa Deming
    November 11, 2013 at 7:49 pm (9 months ago)

    Oh, I love this so much! This fall, the boys and I studied how the trees came to be dressed in such vibrant garb! I’m embarrassed to admit that I never knew the leaves were always wearing fall hues. I learned along with my boys that in spring and summer the leaves are merely ‘cloaked’ in green. But it’s the perfect picture you describe with regards to the true colors of our hearts. “We can’t just resolve to be content or “think happy thoughts” to dispel unhappy ones. Rather our contentment must be built on something more solid, more sure, and more lasting.” Thanks for the beautiful reminder, friend!

    Reply
    • toshowthemjesus
      November 12, 2013 at 5:43 am (9 months ago)

      Isn’t that an amazing scientific fact? It just shows how amazing our God is. His glory is everywhere and once I take my eyes off myself, I can see it. Thanks, Melissa!

      Reply
  5. Mary Jo
    November 11, 2013 at 10:03 pm (9 months ago)

    Thank you for the encouragement! Just today I was feeling discontented, mainly because I feel like I am constantly falling short in my mothering and homeschooling responsibilities. I have three girls, 7, 5, and a very rambunctious 1, and a boy due in April! It’s easy for me to get discouraged and think “if I can’t do this right with three, how am I going to with four?” BUT – your post provided truth to me tonight. Where are my eyes focusing? On my circumstances and shortcomings, or on Jesus who is the first to say to me that he is not looking for perfection from me, but a willing and humble heart that can show my kids a godly example of mercy and forgiveness and patience.

    Dear Lord, for all of us mothers struggling with discontentment, may *You* become to us our one pure and holy passion and one magnificent obsession!! You are all we truly need.

    Reply
    • toshowthemjesus
      November 12, 2013 at 5:41 am (9 months ago)

      Amen! You said it so well. Thanks for visiting:)

      Reply
  6. Kim Shay
    November 12, 2013 at 6:14 am (9 months ago)

    With my kids all gone from home, and struggling to figure out where my place is, I appreciated this.

    Reply

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