Removing temptations. Reducing distractions. These help reduce discontent.
But, just marking a checklist of things I do or do not do will not foster contentment. As with anything done in my own strength, for my own purposes, it will lead to despair because I continually fail; or self-righteousness because I can “keep myself in check”
So, how do I work toward contentment?
Speaking God’s Truth to myself daily (sometimes many times a day) is necessary. I’ve read the term “preaching the Gospel to myself.” Asaph, an Israelite writer of psalms, put it this way:
Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. Psalm 73:1
God is good. His character of having my best interest at heart, does not depend on me. God is good because He is.
And then we run into the first contentment killer. . .
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. Psalm 73:2, 3
Looking at others, comparing myself and what I have or don’t have with what others have or don’t have, kills contentment. I don’t want to be theoretical; I want to be authentic in my struggles as well as in my victories. This contentment killer is a real struggle for me. I miss all the wonderful things that pertain to a functioning body. Driving. Shopping without having to strictly calculate “how far” from the door is the item I’m looking for. Enjoying a fun night of pinochle with friends. Watching an action movie with my husband. Going for a walk. Playing at the park with my grandchildren. Attending church. Going to ladies’ brunch. Attending a women’s conference/retreat in person, rather than livestream. Playing in the ocean waves. Road trips with my husband. Traveling to Alaska to see my family and friends.
So when I hear complaints about traffic, or lines at the store, or a long wait at the restaurant. . .my own “murmurs” can so easily slip from my tongue. The music too loud/slow/fast and sermon too long and room too hot in church . . .at least you can go! You can see where my contentment is killed. I want what I don’t have, and I have what I don’t want. And that is discontent.
Killing envy. Killing sin. Reminding myself that TRULY God is good . . .and He loves me. He sees me. He knows my state. He will use even this for His glory and for His purpose. Knowing Jesus IS better than ______.