Contentment. Is it possible? Is it achievable?
Most would say no. Lives marked by endless pursuits of meaning and purpose, leading to an ever-glowing yet diminishing horizon of promise, just never seem to find it. But still, we all have this idea of contentment, as though it were something attainable, something real.
I believe contentment is a real condition and is attainable. But not by the path chosen by most people.
To discover that place of genuine happiness, we have to get one main thing right: happiness cannot be found by pursuing happiness.
Yes, I know that seems ridiculous, but it really is true. There is no such thing as finding contentment! It cannot be found because humans are vastly more complex than the very things that we mistakenly believe will bring contentment – and – we are so wired that we have far deeper needs than our brains and bodies can possibly reach.
It is virtually impossible to “find” contentment.
Think it through. What do almost all people think of when thinking of being happy? They think of:
- satisfaction (food, comfort, rest, sex, etc.)
- fulfillment (achievement, recognition, purpose, etc.)
- peace (friendships, financial freedom, lack of worries, etc.)
All of these aspects flow over into one another and blend. They are connected and rely on each other to exist. But there is no lasting, real contentment in the complete fulfillment of ANY of these qualities. Why?
In a word, it is this: We cannot achieve contentment in temporal conditions because we are ETERNAL, and these conditions are not.
Simple as that.
We are eternal. This means we are far, far more than the sum total of our physical and physiological selves. Our bodies, our minds, our psyches…these comprise a small part of who we are as humans.
We were made in the image of God. And if we are made in His image, and have traits similar to Him, then it stands to reason we must find our completeness in the things He provides. God then becomes our standard by which we find out who we are and who we want to be.
As the Scriptures tell us, we have fallen from the perfection from which we began, and this by sin. So while there exists a major difference between us and God Himself (our sinful and finite nature), there still remains a likeness and this likeness tells us who we were meant to be. It also tells us who we can become.
Contentment, real and verifiable and absolute, is achieved one way, and only one: from the hand of God to us.
God created us in perfect wholeness and beauty, and sin has broken it. Sin in our lives has made contentment virtually impossible to achieve. There is only One who can fix it. Yes, it is the Lord Himself, and He desires this for each one of us!
Contentment comes when our relationship with God is right. And the more we live by His standards and walk in His ways, the higher and more complete is our contentment and our sense of peace. It is a simple equation, and IT NEVER FAILS!
So instead of pursuing contentment (as the mass of the world does every day), we must pursue God and let Him bring that invaluable condition to us. Contentment is, therefore, not a goal but a bi-product of something else. It is not a place you arrive after a long journey… it is the abiding blessing while on a journey to somewhere else: a right relationship with God.
And how to do this?
Ah, another mystery, but one which we can solve by going to God’s guidebook for life, the Bible