June 25, 2022

The Potentialities of Discontentment

A number of months in the past, I spent a complete of 28 hours within the driver’s seat as I adopted a Penske shifting truck from the northwest suburbs of Atlanta to the rugged deserts of Arizona.

I suppose you could possibly say it was a modern-day model of a pioneers’ wagon prepare — our household trekking west for brand new adventures; you understand, minus the horses, not-built-for-comfort wagon mattress, and cornmeal pancakes. (Though, one in all our stops did contain Cracker Barrel. Maybe we must always have shared a stack of flapjacks as an alternative of an order of fries.)

Though our caravan didn’t embrace any livestock, we did have our two cats in tow. They did surprisingly nicely, contemplating I’ve been informed felines and highway journeys don’t combine. However, once they have been sad, they weren’t shy about serenading me with their discontentment.

Throughout our cross-country drive, I had numerous time to ponder discontentment. This “stressed need or yearning for one thing one doesn’t have”  is an attention-grabbing and complicated emotion.

Many people construe it as gloomy, pessimistic and usually unfavorable. As Christ followers, we regularly attempt to banish the sensation utterly. We imagine that, because the apostle Paul wrote, we should “be content material regardless of the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11). In spite of everything, “godliness with contentment is nice acquire” (1 Timothy 6:6).

Over the previous couple of years, although, I’ve been challenged within the assumption that discontentment is all the time unhealthy within the lifetime of a believer. I’ve begun to see how God can use a yearning for one thing we don’t must propel us to make modifications we could not have thought-about in any other case.

Is God in your discontentment?

Should you’ve relocated earlier than — whether or not to begin school or a profession in a brand new metropolis — you understand shifting is not any joke. It’s exhausting, and just about turns your life the other way up. So why did we resolve to go west after virtually a decade in Atlanta?

It began with one phrase: discontentment.

Two years in the past, I started to really feel annoyed about dwelling virtually 1,800 miles away from my mother and father and sisters. It wasn’t simple or low cost to see one another. And due to some monetary challenges my husband Ted and I have been experiencing on the time, our visits had been much less and fewer frequent. I started to ponder whether or not we must always shut the geographical hole by shifting nearer.

Then COVID-19 hit. As we navigated lockdown, my frustration shortly grew to become a “stressed need or craving” for one thing I didn’t have — that proximity to household.

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As that two-year time interval tells you, we didn’t high-tail it outta Georgia at these preliminary emotions of discontentment. Why not? As a result of we needed to be assured that God was behind it. The reality is that all of us really feel dissatisfied and stressed at occasions. And despite the fact that discontentment doesn’t deserve banishment to the “naughty listing” of feelings, it could possibly typically lead us to make sinful or egocentric choices if we don’t decelerate and vet it first.

So how did we decide God was utilizing discontentment to propel us to maneuver? And how are you going to discern should you’re imagined to dig in and be devoted the place you might be — whether or not it’s a job, a church, or another state of affairs — or if God’s prompting you to make a change? Listed below are just a few sensible ideas.

1. See what Scripture says

The primary place I went with my discontentment was Scripture. I needed the plans that have been slowly forming in my coronary heart to be those that aligned with God’s functions. And I knew that my feelings weren’t all the time reliable (Jeremiah 17:9).

You and I can really feel stressed in loads of conditions that Scripture clearly addresses. Some verses tell us when discontentment is nice and when it’s not so good.

For instance, earlier than my husband Ted and I met, he began to really feel dissatisfied along with his single standing. The verse, “It’s not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18), saved coming to his thoughts. On this state of affairs, God was utilizing discontentment to begin orchestrating the occasions that will convey us collectively.

However in terms of our marriage now, if we’re feeling dissatisfied with it, it’s not OK for us to look elsewhere for achievement. The identical is true for premarital intercourse. The longing could also be there through the single years, however God gave us particular boundaries for our safety and well-being. These are areas the place discontentment, if adopted, can wreak havoc on our lives.

In our state of affairs, there wasn’t a verse that mentioned, “Sure, it’s best to transfer,” or “No, it’s essential to keep put.” One selection wasn’t godlier than the opposite. And perhaps that’s true for you too. It may very well be that you just’re in an excellent job, nevertheless it’s not personally fulfilling. Or maybe there are some points in your house church, however you aren’t certain whether or not to stay it out or not. Possibly you’ve been working towards a selected diploma, and now you’re not so certain you need to research that space anymore. In these conditions, do you keep put or do you make a change?

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What I discovered in Scripture have been the acquainted verses like Paul’s assertion in Philippians about studying to be content material. As I reread it, I observed two issues.

One, it doesn’t seem to be that is an “instructive” or “prescriptive” passage. I don’t assume Paul was telling his readers that keen themselves to be content material was “the reply” each time they felt discontentment. As a substitute, it seems Paul was reassuring the folks at this church in Philippi that he knew he was within the heart of God’s will. And, due to that, he was happy it doesn’t matter what circumstance he discovered himself in.

Wouldn’t it’s good should you and I might all the time really feel as assured as Paul? For us, it doesn’t really feel so easy when Scripture doesn’t give us a cut-and-dry reply to what God’s will is in a selected state of affairs. It actually didn’t give me readability on whether or not I wanted to be taught to be content material or not. However what it did do was give me motion steps I might take — which brings me to the second factor I observed.

Paul didn’t let his state of affairs dictate his feelings. Simply because one thing was exhausting or didn’t make him joyful, it didn’t imply it wasn’t in God’s will for him. And I knew that is likely to be the case for me as nicely. Maybe God needed to show me true contentment dwelling distant from my household. So I made it my aim to give up my emotions to God reasonably than act on them.

2. Pray for knowledge and route

One in all my favourite quotes is from British creator G.Okay. Chesterton. He wrote, “Being ‘contented’ ought to not imply in English, because it does in French, being happy. Being content material with an attic ought to not imply being unable to maneuver from it and resigned to dwelling in it; it must imply appreciating all there may be in such a place.” And I believe this goes again to what Paul was saying in his letter to the Philippian church.

As a result of Scripture didn’t have a cut-and-dry reply on whether or not we must always transfer, I began asking God to take away the discontentment if it wasn’t from Him — and as an alternative to exchange it with an appreciation for the place I at present was. I discovered myself additionally echoing the phrases of Moses when he informed God, “In case your presence won’t go along with me, don’t convey us up from right here” (Exodus 33:15). I didn’t need to pack one field with out Him.

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However, as I did, my discontentment didn’t lower over time. It slowly elevated. Ted and I gained readability as our circumstances began to shift outdoors of our management. He went from being a “firm man” to being self-employed, for instance. For the primary time in our 18 years of marriage, he might work from wherever within the nation. God had introduced us to a spot the place his job was not tied to a location.

So, should you’re feeling discontent and uncertain what the subsequent proper factor is, begin praying for knowledge and route. Ask God to both enhance or lower your discontentment. Then, be delicate to how He begins working in your coronary heart and your circumstances.

3. Ask trusted folks in your life

As my discontentment grew and Ted’s job standing modified, we additionally confided in folks we trusted. This included our mother and father, life group leaders, and shut buddies who had constantly inspired and challenged us in our non secular lives. We realized that “within the abundance of counselors there may be security” (Proverbs 11:14).

We shared with them our potential plans and listened to their sincere suggestions. Lots of them helped us take into account each the professionals and cons of such an enormous transfer. However in the end, all of them affirmed that if we sensed God main us, we would have liked to be obedient.

After I write about marriage, I stress the significance of choosing confidants who gained’t simply inform you what you need to hear. That’s essential right here too. As you’re making an attempt to find out the motivation behind your discontentment, those that know you nicely are invaluable.

Typically after we really feel caught or sad, our first intuition is to flee or run away; so it’s helpful to have others who might be able to see the state of affairs extra objectively come alongside us and supply enter. They can level out blind spots and aid you higher consider your feelings.

Pulling the set off

As you already know from my complete trendy wagon-train story, after learning Scripture, praying, and in search of smart counsel, we decided that God was behind the discontentment I felt. He used it to propel us into a brand new season in a brand new place.

Does that imply the change has been simple? Completely not. However, as we face the ups and downs of dwelling in God’s excellent plan for us, we’re grateful that He faithfully treks alongside us in each journey.

Copyright 2021 Ashleigh Slater. All rights reserved.