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The Truth about Contentment

If you are searching for contentment in your circumstance, then you will probably spend a lifetime looking for this. There is only one source of true contentment and that is in Jesus Christ. I have talked with many people who are trying to find this very thing. They say, “If I could only have a little bit more of this or that, or if I did not have so much trouble at home or on my job, I would be happy.”

I always want to laugh a little and say, “A job will never bring happiness. It can bring many rewards, but it is not the basis for contentment.” The same is true with people: a person cannot make you happy. People will disappoint us. They fail us and rightfully so because our trust needs to be in one Person and that is Jesus Christ. We can work hard to change our circumstances; but, if we are not fully dependent on God, we will face one disappointment after another.

Do All Things without Murmuring

Recently I returned home to Toccoa Falls full of expectation. Christmas was almost here; and I also was looking forward to celebrating my wedding anniversary on December 24. While I was away, I was sent updates on the day-to-day operations of the college, but no one had mentioned one particular problem.

The moment I stepped back on campus I realized something was wrong, and my heart dropped. Though I never told anyone, the temptation to grumble and feel sorry for myself was very strong. As I listened to those around me talk, the Holy Spirit reminded me of Paul’s words to the Philippians: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13).

I couldn’t argue with God. I knew He was right, and He was telling me that He would provide exactly what I needed to withstand this disappointment. Later, I looked up Philippians 4 and reread this verse along with verse 12. I could be content, but contentment required something of me. It meant making a choice to trust God and let go of my expectations. So with disappointing thoughts swirling through my head, I decided to do just that—trust the One who had allowed my circumstances to turn so dark.

Grumbling against God Has Consequences

It is wrong to grumble about the things we cannot control. In fact, there are consequences to murmuring: The Israelites grumbled and the results were disastrous. They murmured about Moses, fussed about not having the food they wanted, and complained about a lack of water. God almost allowed them die in the wilderness. (Numbers 14) One discontented member can spoil a whole family. And discontentment is never a good testimony for Jesus Christ and His faithfulness.

How could Paul say that he could do “all things”? He learned through experience. When trouble came his way, he trusted God to guide him through it. He wrote, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13).

Is there a time when discontentment is acceptable? Yes. When God is getting ready to move us to another position, we may feel discontent. Many of our students have said that before they came to Toccoa Falls they felt discontent and sought the Lord in prayer. But the key to victory in this area is this: “Do all things without murmuring or disputing.”

Once while at sea, the ship with John Wesley on board encountered a great storm. Wesley wrote, “All the passengers were frightened except a small group of Moravians. I finally asked one of the men, ‘Are you afraid?’ “He replied, ‘No, why should I be when I know Jesus Christ?’”

This encounter led to John Wesley’s conversion. My question to you is this: Do you know the One who holds your life in His hand? If so, you have discovered the way to eternal contentment.

Taken from a sermon preached by Dr. Richard Forrest on December 12, 1947.