Content or Discontent: that is the question!

“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”
Phil 4:11

Do you find yourself struggling with the way your life is going? Are you regularly looking at what you don’t have or can’t do? Do you look at those around you and feel like they have it all together, that they have achieved things you want? Perhaps you are struggling in discontentment.

Content or discontent: that is the question!

Discontentment is the result of rejecting God.

I don’t mean that we reject our salvation. I mean that we reject what God says or what God gives in a given situation or circumstance. The definition of discontentment is:

a restless desire or craving for something one does not have

We all have dreams or hopes in our lives that we haven’t achieved. It might be to play cello in a symphony orchestra or to see Hawaii. But these things don’t usually cause this restless craving in our lives. Some things I’ve heard from women over the years that HAVE been restless cravings are:

  • babies – either wanting them or not wanting them
  • marriage – either wanting it or wanting out of it
  • the perfect job
  • the perfect house
  • more money

Obsessing over the things we don’t have or can’t do (or the things we feel stuck in) causes us to live in the middle of this restless craving. This craving is a form of lust; not sexual lust but strong desire that begins to control our minds, attitudes and, eventually, our behavior. And this craving results in a rejection of God’s working in our lives.

We want what we want when we want it.

  • We reject his allowing us to do without, to make do and sometimes even to suffer.
  • We reject His authority and supremacy over our lives.
  • We even reject His right to have that place in our lives.
  • We think we could do better and we could make ourselves happier.

I’ll share my short story.

Many years ago we had 5 young children and lived in a small house in ND. We had come from grad school and student housing with a 500 sq ft apartment with 3+ children and I babysat between 3-6 other children. We lived on $650/month and were happy. Then Kevin got a real job and we were making REAL money and living in a slightly larger (700 sq ft) house. I had friends who made way more money than we did, had lovely homes, nice cars and had many more choices in their lives than we did. Discontentment brewed in my heart.

I began to feel trapped and suffocated in our tiny home. So I pushed my husband into believing we HAD to move. I found place after place to look at. Most of them were too expensive, too small, too close to creeks, too far from work, too far from towns. I became obsessed with a restless craving for what I did not have. And this affected my attitude and behavior toward Kevin and toward my children.

Then God slapped me upside the head (as they say in ND)!

One sweet friend told me about her growing up years and how her mom used to have the children sleep on the couch and other places because their house was small. I remembered my own childhood years with 2 of my sisters and I sharing a bed until my oldest sister was 11. OUCH! God revealed my discontented heart and I was mortified. I repented and confessed to God, my husband and my children and God spun me 180 degrees toward contentment.

I realized if we swapped bedrooms we could easily fit the 4 toddler beds and a crib in the larger room. And eventually, we could even fit 3 sets of bunk beds, a toddler bed and a crib. We didn’t ever have to leave that house. Suddenly that tiny house looked warm and inviting. Granted, in our smaller room with our full size bed, we had to be on the bed to shut the door, but this place could work. A release of the restlessness resulted in a joy I had missed for a long time.

And, as God often works things, a week later my husband asked me to check for house listings. I found one that was $100 more than we were paying, a 5 minute walk from his job and had 4 bedrooms. I told Kevin I was happy and content to stay yet he wanted me to make an appointment to see it. It ended up being only $50 more than we were paying and had 5+ bedrooms, 3 finished rooms in the basement, 2 1/4 bathrooms and a huge lot of land. We took it!

[clickToTweet tweet=”Contentment is the result of surrendered hearts.” quote=”Contentment is the result of surrendered hearts.”]

I had to be willing to surrender my heart, plans, hopes and desires (yes and my greeds) to God. Until that happened, I was trapped in a world of my own making. My heart was so dissatisfied I reeked! But in that one instance of surrender, the chains fell off of my heart and I was able to see, taste, hear and feel the freedom He had for me.

I wish I could say that my life has been one Contentment Fest ever since, but that wouldn’t be true. I have learned a lasting lesson, however. It is easier for me to more quickly see that ugliness creep back into my heart and to choose surrender instead.

How about YOU? Where is the discontent in your heart eating away at your joy? Where is the restless craving that is causing you to reject God? Where is He asking you to surrender your heart?

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All Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB.

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  1. Interestingly enough, the famous Philippians 4:13 verse comes right after Paul speaks about contentment. We’re eager to use that verse when we’re facing difficult trials (which there’s nothing wrong with that), but I know I don’t even think about that verse when it comes to living with contentment. The strength Christ gives us for all things includes living with contentment. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, and thanks for hosting!

    • Excellent point, Caroline! Living contentedly with what God puts in our path…always a challenge, but much more freeing than the alternative!

      Thanks for sharing this insight, dear!!

  2. What a great post!! That discontent can creep in at any time and once dealt with…. can come back. We need to be aware and pray… Search me, O God and know my heart…. Thank you for posting this.

    • Amen, Joy! Thanks for sharing and for joining me today!

  3. Kate,
    I know exactly what that contentment means after what we have been through… my husband nearly dying of meningitis, out of work for 23 months, bankruptcy because of it all. My favorite verse is actually Phil 4:12…
    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 know what it is to be content. I am thankful that I know what it is to be content.
    In HIM.
    Lovely post as you open up your heart and soul, Kate!

    • Wow, Heather, you have been down a rough road. Praise God for His faithfulness to you and for the marvelous lessons you’ve learned! Thanks for sharing that and for stopping by. I’m really looking forward to getting to know you more!!


  4. Kate, I needed this today! Yes, I’ve been struggling with discontentment in many areas. But I know that when my focus is on the Lord, these things I long for grow dim, and insignificant. Sometimes it’s also a matter of not putting yourself in the position of constantly seeing the thing you wish you could have. I don’t spend much time on “homesteading” websites because I leave with a sense of longing for a life that is not mine to have. As long as I’m looking at my own blessings and not someone else’s I can see the value in them and not be disheartened by what someone else has.
    Of course it’s not wrong to hope for a baby, or a husband (not in that order or course) or any other good thing. But it’s when we become discontent with all else because of that unfulfilled hope that we need to refocus.

  5. What a great post! Discontent is such a nasty, sneaky attitude. It can show up and make us miserable … but a misery of our own making! Thanks for the reminder. And thanks for linking up on Mondays @ Soul Survival.



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