“Discontent is to the soul as a disease is to the body: it puts it out of temper and much hinders its regular and sublime motions heavenward. For my part, I do not know of any ornament in religion that more bespangles a Christian, or glitters in the eye of God and man more, than this of contentment. Nor certainly is there anything wherein all the Christian virtues work more harmoniously or shine more transparently than in this orb.
If there is a blessed life before we come to heaven, it is the contented life.”
I have struggled with discontentment on many fronts in the past year, and I agree with Mr. Watson—the contented life is a heaven on earth! Discontentment makes all things in life taste bitter, and cuts us off from enjoying what God has given us. No matter what your life is like, you will always be able to find something with which to be discontented. But if you learn contentment, you will find as in Proverbs 27:7, “every bitter thing is sweet” because it comes from the hand of God. You will be secure in the knowledge that God is working everything in your life for your ultimate good. You will be able to trust Him, to rest in His sovereignty, and to delight in the gifts He gives you. I am learning this right now, however slowly and painfully. And I can tell you, the little tastes I have had of really being contented in God’s plan have been so wonderful! Pouting and pitying myself, though they feel good for a time, can never compare to this kind of deep rest in my Savior’s love for me.
I want to recommend a book by Thomas Watson. It is called “The Art of Divine Contentment,” and has been, and I pray will continue to be, a tool God uses to change my stubborn heart in this area. It is not long or hard to read, and I pray it will be a tool for sanctification in your life as it has been in mine. At this time of living in my father’s house and being unmarried, I believe contentment is one of the most important lessons I can learn. It applies in so many areas of life, and to learn it now will be invaluable in later trials.
I found the whole text of this book is available to read online here.
Just search for the book title and there it is! If you want to just read one chapter, I recommend chapter 14: Rules about Contentment. It is my favorite part of the book!
Or you can buy your own copy at Reformation Heritage Books.
“[One of the marks of Christian Maturity which a believer should seek is] an acquiescence in the Lord’s will founded in a persuasion of His wisdom, holiness, sovereignty and goodness.… So far as we can attain this, we are secure from disappointment. Our own limited views, and shortsighted purposes and desires, may be, and will be, often over-ruled; but then our main and leading desire, that the will of the Lord be done, must be accomplished. How highly does it become us, both as creatures and as sinners, to submit to the appointment of our maker! and how necessary is it to our peace! This great attainment is too often unthought of, and over looked; we are prone to fix our attention upon the second causes and immediate instruments of events; forgetting that whatever befalls us is according to his purpose, and therefore must be right and seasonable in itself, and shall in the issue be productive of good.
From hence arise impatience, resentment, and secret repinings [i.e., complaining], which are not only sinful but tormenting; whereas, if all things are in his hand, if the very hairs of our head are numbered; if every event, great and small, is under the direction of his providence and purpose; and if he has a wise, holy, and gracious end in view, to which everything that happens is subordinate and subservient;-then we have nothing to do, but with patience and humility to follow as he leads, and cheerfully to expect a happy issue....How happy are they who can resign all to Him, see His hand in every dispensation and believe that He chooses better for them than they possibly could for themselves!”
John Newton, an excerpt from a letter to a friend