Seeds of discontentment strangle out hope

One of the killers of hope is discontentment. I’m convinced this is true. I have decided to be “discontent” about discontentment.

When I read the Scriptures about discontentment, I am surprised that the one who writes most aggressively against it was a radical, intellectual, politically religious Jew whose sole mission in his early life was to assassinate the followers of Jesus. He chose as his personal mission to eradicate the most hope-filled people on earth.

After personally encountering Jesus himself, he writes later on, “… I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

In 2 Corinthians 12:10 he penned, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Being content with “hardships” and “calamities” does not play well in a world culture set upon a “utopia” of having materially, socially and personally everything one wants.

The contention of Scripture and the teaching of Jesus is that when someone chooses to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, not just choose a religion, he or she will have the one essential thing for life. Joseph Stowell wrote in his devotional book “Strength for the Journey,” “Contentment is planted deep within when we place our confidence in the fact that having Jesus is having all that we need.”

You and I are surrounded and pounded upon by a politically charged culture that is bent upon focusing on “discontentment.” If you are set upon finding contentment through the pursuit of political philosophies or social justice, you might as well try chasing after the wind hoping to catch it. It cannot exist in this world.

The “eye” in the storm of social upheavals and protests in this world culture is only available in the contentment that comes through godliness. Paul, the former religious radical, writes in 1 Timothy 6:6, “…godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Godliness is what we are given from God when we choose Jesus as our model for living, and contentment is the attitude by which we choose to live — not being possessed by our possessions or by giving control of our lives and attitudes to earthly pursuits.

Hope doesn’t come from us — it comes to us from God — but we can certainly set the stage for it in our life by who and what we choose to focus on.

David Woods is part of the preaching staff at Park Chapel Christian Church. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.