The Elusive Contentment

Definition of contentment

1the quality or state of being contented

Definition of contented: feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation a contented smile. They lived a contented life.

We just finished a sermon series at church called “Chasing Carrots.” The series focused on the things we chase after, thinking they will make us happy and contented. It was thought provoking and challenging.

Today as I was on Facebook reading posts of my friends, I was reminded of the fact that we look for so many things in our lives to fulfill us. As I was reading I recognized the frustrations, sorrows, joys, and everyday challenges of life. But a couple of posts I read really made me think about the things we search for in life.

Recently two of my friends have posted about their life journeys. They discussed the search for finding significance in their careers, the challenges of not being where they wanted to be in life, and the realization, that no matter what, chasing the after things leads to dissatisfaction. Both of them ended up in the same conclusion: the most important things are relationship with God and others and that trumps all. Their worth is not found in what they do or what they have, but in who they are in Jesus.

I have been thinking a lot lately about contentment. Maybe that is because I have reached what is called “the golden years” (a misnomer if ever there was one). I look back now and recognize that I spent a lot of my life looking for satisfaction in my job, my family, and yes, even in my work in the church. Those things are not inherently bad. But if I define myself by my successes with job, family, and church, I will never find complete contentment, because I am putting my trust in things that change constantly. Careers change, family brings great joy, but also some great losses, and yes, even the church is not perfect.

What are you putting your trust in and seeking after? Do you think I will be content if only . . . I have the right career . . . I am loved by the right person . . .  I am secure financially . . . I am the best parent. You can fill in the blank.

Contentment, true contentment, comes from a relationship with a loving God. He sees me. He sees my struggles. He sees my chasing after carrots. He sees my joys. He see my sorrows. He sees my pride. He sees my sins and STILL loves me fully and completely.

While we can find temporary contentment in possessions, careers, and relationships, ultimately, those fade. But if you want complete contentment that cannot be shaken, it is found in relationship with God.

“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 everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12b-13

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