Discontent

Jennie Allen
October 21, 2019

Jennie Allen

Bible teacher, founder of IF:Gathering
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Some of our good friends when they were trying to decide if they were going to get married or not. I mean, it was obvious to everybody, and we couldn't figure out why he wasn't pulling the trigger and asking the question. Zach finally asked him, "what is holding you back? What's keeping you from this?" And he said, "I'm just so afraid that there's something better out there." And I feel that.There is just a formula in our culture for discontentment, but that's not new. That has been going on since Adam and Eve.

Is there something better?

Before there was clever marketing, the devil was playing on our fear of missing out. He played into Eve's wondering. Is there something I'm missing out on? Am I missing out on something better? And that is what drove her to eat the Apple. It was a wondering, is there something better? 

It's in our DNA. It was written in before she ever fell. It was written in before the curse. We have this wondering is there something better? And it's because there is something better. We were made for something more physically, emotionally, spiritually better, and it's coming. It's promised, and it's spelled out in this book that God gave us about Himself and and the world. He's coming back for us. We are built for heaven. We ache for it, and everything on earth feels incomplete and insufficient and like a let down because it is.

Why we're discontent

There is a day coming that we will get what we want and our character will be made full. Our satisfaction will be completely found in God because He is that good. Until then, he's so kind to cause us to remember he's better. We sing this song at my old church called Jesus is better. I cry every time because that's always something I need to believe. Jesus is better than every single day. I need to believe whether it's a blessing that I've been given, I don't want to fall in love with it so much that I don't need God, or it's a loss that I'm facing, He's better. He's good. Even if everything goes to hell and he's good. 

I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. - Ecclesiastes 1:14

This is the most freeing thing you can ever come to terms with. The saddest thing I've ever seen is somebody that has everything you can have under the sun and there is an emptiness in their eyes that's deeper than that. Not having God. That is despair. And so I don't think discontentment is always bad, but I do think the enemy uses it, twists it and causes it to be something that's crippling and causes us to chase things on earth that are never actually going to satisfy us.

Dealing with our Discontentment

Let's start with the basic, 101 of Discontentment. What is the problem? The problem is that we were built for something that we can never fully be satisfied for on earth. You see this in kids, right? I see this in my son constantly. He sets his heart, his whole being on a goal, and when it doesn't happen, there's just despair. Then we grow up and realize this isn't going to work.  We can't live this way. But, again, in some ways we don't. We may not throw the temper tantrum about it, but we do constantly feel a sense of loss or disappointment even in small things. I would even say especially in small things because the big things we do run to God. We do run to hope. We do run to community. But with the small things, it seems to be this just general apathetic, complacent, barely noticing discontentment that sits around.

And so I want to talk about what our hope is in this because it doesn't have to be this way. It's actually our thought lives that control our emotions. In our minds is the place of control. Throughout scripture, it's clear that we are given authority and power over our minds. When we talk about discontentment, we have to go to the place that all of this starts, the engine of that, and that is our minds and what we set our minds on.

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Paul specifically talks a lot about this in Philippians. He says, set your minds on things that are lovely, things that are true, things that are beautiful. He lays out this gorgeous summary of what we are to think about, and the reason we are to think about these things is because those thoughts bring life and peace. Every morning when you wake up, the reason you go to the Bible first is to remember that no matter how life disappoints you today, no matter what you face, small or big, He is better. Heaven is coming. And you can be okay here. No matter what you face.

Back to God

I wouldn't necessarily call myself a discontented person, but I will have behaviors pop up. I'll just get really grumpy after I sit on Instagram, not really know why. But it's discontentment. With Instagram, we can scroll at any moment and see the best, filtered version of what everybody else has. I'm not saying everyone should share their worst on Instagram, that would get weird. But I think we've got to enter Instagram and the world recognizing that everybody is displaying their best. And we've got to know that because it gives us compassion, and it helps us realize life is more complicated and nuanced than it looks online.

I think most of us are living with a general sense of discontentment. And when we talk about all these emotions, what they're supposed to do in their best form is bring us to God. When I get angry, what do I do? I stop and pray. What do I tell my son to do? I tell him to stop, breathe and pray and ask God for help. And I think that's what God is after. Whatever the emotion is, if it's discontentment, anger, jealousy, that we would just keep coming back to God. 

Contentment looks like me alone with God, usually with worship music. I say that because I've genuinely never felt so content anywhere else. But then I forget, and I go other places. But when I am just with God by myself with the word, with worship, with Him, I remember, this is where life is. It's the only thing. There is no self-help for discontentment. There is none. It is Jesus. There's not another thing that is going to actually ever satisfy your soul. Nothing is enough on earth because we were built for heaven, and we were built for God. 

Until we really admit that, own it, sit in it, experience it, we're going to keep feeling this way. When you know that God is enough, when you know that heaven is coming, you can face anything. I don't have another answer. There's not another answer. It's how we find contentment. It's the only way. 

So the question I want you to process today, get in your journal, share with a friend is: what are you tasting? What are you spending your time on? What are believing is going to make you happy outside of God?

Jennie Allen

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