There is No Contentment without Gratitude
This past Sunday at church the sermon was about contentment. It seemed to me that the heart of the sermon was that we should be content with only Jesus, because Jesus is really all we need and all we really have (we came into the world with nothing and we will leave with nothing). And it seemed that the answer he gave for being more content was to remember and focus on how all we need is Jesus. Well, the more I think about it the more I sort of have issues with this...
While I think focusing on our lack, on how little we truly have, on how we came into the world naked and we take nothing out of it, does knock us off our high horses and works great for combating pride, I don't think it works so well for combating discontentment. Or at least not for me.
When I focus on how all I really have is Jesus it doesn't make me content, in fact it actually feeds my discontentment a little. I think this is partly because it draws my attention to my lack instead of my abundance. But, also partly because, truth be told, I want more. Jesus isn't all I want. And perhaps it's sacraligious, but I'm not so sure that he's suppose to be all I want.
Ok, hear me out... Here's my thinking. Adam (as in the "first man"), prior to the fall, was perfect and God walked with him in the garden. He had everything he needed and he had God beside him. But, he wasn't really content. He wanted more. God himself said it wasn't good, God himself said Adam needed more. He needed community. He needed a partner, a friend.
So, here's what I think. We do need God. But he isn't all we need. We also need each other. We also need community and friendship and love.
Focusing on how all we need is Jesus and all we have is Jesus isn't the answer to our discontentment because it just draws our attention to our lack instead of our abundance, and because it misses a truth that God created us not just for Himself, but for each other as well.
For me, the best answer to my discontentment is gratitude.
Gratitude combats discontentment because gratitude takes our focus off what we don't have and onto what we do have. It grows contentment in us as no other displine can.
When I focus on how much I already have, and thank God for all the good that comes from his hands it's impossible to stay discontent.
Contentment isn't focusing on how all we have is Jesus. Contentment is accepting where we are and what we have, accepting ALL things as good gifts from the hand of a loving God. When I focus on that, when I embrace where I am, where God's placed me, that is when I grow contentment in my soul. When I embrace all that I do have, all that a loving God has given me that is when I find contentment and peace to walk through whatever lack I may have thought I had.
Gratitude and contentment go hand in hand. Personally I do not think there is any way to find contentment without gratitude.
What do you think?
Rejoicing on the journey, Bethany Stedman