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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

How to Be Content

How to be contentI just want to be married!

Recently my wife and I spoke with a young woman who was struggling to be content.

She has strong faith.  She loves the Lord Jesus.

But she longs to be married.  And so sometimes she feels deeply discontent.

And she wondered what she could do to find more contentment.

She’s not alone

We all struggle with contentment.  Maybe it’s not about getting married.

But we might feel discontentment over our —

  • careers
  • marriages
  • homes
  • cars
  • health
  • income
  • lives in general

But there’s good news

Here’s what Paul said about contentment —

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.  (Phil 4:11-12)

So no matter what our circumstances — it’s always possible to be content.

That might sound impossible.  And I’m certainly not saying I never feel discontentment.

But Paul is clear — it’s possible to never feel discontentment.

How is that possible?

It’s because God promises to completely satisfy our hearts in Jesus Christ.

Look at these Scriptures —

Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”  Now this He said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive.  John 7:37-38

Is your heart thirsty for marriage?  A better job?  A nicer car?  Jesus promises that if you will come to Him and drink, He will  pour His Spirit upon you so powerfully that all your heart-thirsts — including your thirst for marriage, a better job, or a nicer car — will be completely satisfied.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.  Psalm 90:14

Moses wrote this psalm.  So what satisfied Moses’ heart?  God’s steadfast love.  When Moses understood, saw, sensed, and felt God’s steadfast love, he was so satisfied — so content — that he rejoiced and was glad.

Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.  Psalm 73:25

Asaph (who wrote this psalm) had times when God so filled his heart that he desired nothing else.  Nothing.  That’s contentment.

Not will-power — but heart-experience

Please don’t misunderstand.

It’s not that we grit our teeth and cling to the truth that God is all-satisfying — even though we feel empty.

It’s that we can have times when we feel and experience God completely satisfying our hearts in Himself.

This does not mean we stop desiring marriage — or a better job.

But it means that in the meantime we are fully content and satisfied in God.

How can we experience this?

In John 7:37-38 (quoted above) Jesus promises to pour His Spirit upon us so powerfully that our heart-thirsts are completely satisfied in Him.

And He tells us how we can experience this — by coming to Him and drinking.  Which is another way of saying — by believing in Him.

So how do we do that?  Here are steps I’ve found helpful —

  • Turn to Jesus just as you are — trusting Him to give you everything you need.
  • Confess your discontentment — that you’ve been trusting something besides Him to satisfy your heart.
  • Receive the assurance of His complete forgiveness based on His death and resurrection.
  • Ask Him to pour upon you the work of His Spirit — to help you see and feel and experience Him as your all-satisfying Treasure.
  • Set your heart upon the truth of who God is and what God has done — thinking and pondering and meditating on specific Scriptures.
  • Pray over those Scriptures until — by the work of the Spirit — you taste and feel God’s all-satisfying presence.

This is what Jesus means when He says “come to me and drink.”

And He promises that when you do — your thirsty soul will be filled and overflowing with rivers of living water.

You will be completely content — in Him.

That’s how to be content.

Feedback?  Questions?

I’d love to hear your thoughts — leave a reply below.  Thanks!

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Category: How to Be Content

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19 Responses

  1. What an encouraging post! This is something that I know I and my sister and other young ladies we have spoken to struggle with to find contentment during this season of our lives. And yet, by faith, we can find contentment. But it is a daily fight to be fully satisfied in Christ alone. Psalm 73:25 that you mentioned has been such a blessing to me many times, but it’s also brought conviction when I’m desiring something ornsomeone else for satisfaction. God mercifully taught me a lot about this lesson through a relationship that ended painfully, but He taught me how important Him being first in my heart and life, my all satisfying treasure, really is. He must be everything! I read an interesting quote the other day, that was challenging. “A Woman’s heart should be so lost in God that a man needs to seek Him in order to find her.” That really challenged me! My focus must be on Christ! In Him is my joy and my complete satisfaction! But I so appreciate you saying that it doesn’t mean that the desire is gone, because sometimes I struggle with feeling like the desire shouldn’t be so much there. But that it’s about learning satisfaction in Christ in this. Your blog has opened up a whole new aspect for me in my spiritual walk that has changed me so much! This whole aspect of Christ being our all satisfying treasure has been one of the greatest discoveries in my life! I still have a LOT to learn about it, but so appreciate your constant encouragement in this way! And it’s been interesting, because it seems that this is a theme that now surrounds me all the time, no matter what I’m reading! I was just speaking with someone the other Sunday and she was sharing with me that they were studying the first catechism question and she was thinking about how she understood that we are to glorify God, but didn’t understand what it meant to enjoy Him. I could so relate because of so recently feeling that confusion. I am hopeful to be able to share with her some of your posts that have really helped me to understand this. Thank you so much for sharing! :-)
    BTW- I’m glad that you’re blog is working again! :-)

  2. Steve Fuller says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, Breanna. And I love how you put it — “He must be everything!” So, so true.

    And when He is my everything — my heart is completely content — because He IS the all-satisfying Treasure of the universe.

    Thanks for your encouragement — and for letting me know about the problem with the blog.

    In Christ,

    Steve Fuller

  3. Anne says:

    You said that being satisfied in Jesus does not mean we stop desiring other things, but that we can be satisfied in him in the meantime. What about contentment with things that are NOT going to change. I.e. things you dislike about your spouse’s physical appearance so much that it consumes you and you wish this and that were different about him. How do you deal with THOSE kind of desires if being satisfied in Jesus doesn’t mean other desires will go away. I’ve been crying out to the Lord to change my heart on this! Don’t know what else to do. I’ve already tried the willpower thing and it doesn’t work.

  4. Paul Walton says:

    Anne, I believe God can meet all our weaknesses through grace.

    ” For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.- Hebrews 4:15-16

    We can come get grace before sin to keep us from sin, just as much as we can come for grace after we sin. When we only talk about grace’s cleansing effects, we undermine the preserving effects of grace.

    Grace isn’t just the surgery that can remove the cancer; grace is also the way of life that prevents cancer in the first place! Paul asked Christ to remove his thorn in his flesh, but Christ told him His grace was sufficient to overcome his weakness. Seek God’s grace, plead for it, and you will find it in the time of need, He has promised us this.

  5. M J Spaulding says:

    Your blog on Contentment came to my attention at a crucial time in my life. I have used this passage of Paul in times past when I was in a situation where I needed to be content in the care of the Lord.

    But now as my health is failing but I’m not dying it is helping me make a decision for the future of my life. It was something I needed to be reminded of and I thank you for blogging. You have been a blessing.

  6. Eric lee says:

    Thanks for putting this elusive subject of contentment into such a clear and easily understandable way. Your analogy of walking 3 miles to the bank for a reward of 3 billion dollars makes the point powerfully since even though very few (if any) of us will ever know or experience that kind of monetary wealth, all of us clearly understand and can imagine how being 3 billion dollars wealthier would affect our lives. However, what if Jesus’ promise of his all satisfying presence as a our motvation and reward is something many of us only understand in theory but have never really experienced? It’s rather hard to be motivated by a reward that doesn’t fully really compute since an idea or concept without an actual accompanying experience is not very powerful (we all know what a dollar can buy, but how many have actually experienced being completely satisfied?) I’d imagine that if something were truly all satisfying and completely fulfilled our every desire, it would be something we’d constantly be craving and seeking out – like the way people who are addicted to substances that bring momentary experiences of euphoria seek out their next fix (sorry to use substance addiction as an analogy, but it’s the best example I can think of). So my question then is, why is it seemingly so difficult and rare to experience God’s all satisfying presence on a regular basis (if at all)? I think your suggestions for how to experience this reward that Christ offers us is certainly helpful and the right steps, but what if like in my case, you’ve done all of these things and you’re still struggling with fear, worry, discontentment, etc? I often end up feeling that it then must mean that I’m doing something wrong or not praying earnestly enough, haven’t confessed every sin (maybe I forgot to mention a few), or haven’t done something else. It then becomes a case of me feeling like I’m just a bad Christian and that I MUST be getting something wrong. Obviously, the willpower thing doesn’t work, so any additional insight or suggestions would be very much appreciated.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      It’s good to hear from you, Eric. Thanks for stopping by and raising such a crucial question.

      So — why don’t we more often experience Christ as our all-satisfying Treasure?

      This might be a great topic for a future blog post — but here’s a couple thoughts:

      1. Jesus promises that everyone who believes in Him will experience this (John 4:13-14; John 6:35; John 7:37-38). So some people don’t experience this because they don’t believe in Jesus. They might think faith means just agreeing to truths about Jesus or trusting Jesus as the One who died to save me from sin. But maybe they aren’t trusting Him as Lord, Savior, AND all-satisfying Treasure.

      2. Along the same lines — maybe they are not turning from whatever else they were trusting as their treasure — to trust Jesus as their treasure. Maybe they are trying to trust Jesus while they are also trusting money, or fame, or entertainment as their treasure. If they will turn to Jesus and honestly confess their other treasures — and cry out to Jesus to free them — and set their hearts on Jesus and look to Him earnestly in faith — in time He will pour His Spirit upon them and they will see and feel the glory of Jesus and be fully satisfied in Him. He promises to do this for all who come to Him in faith (John 4:13-14; John 6:35; John 7:37-38).

      3. If I come to Jesus thinking He owes me anything — that will quench the work of the Spirit. Biblical faith means looking entirely away from myself, coming as a beggar in need of mercy, and looking to Jesus alone.

      4. You mention confession of sin. If you are sincerely confessing all KNOWN sins in general — you are good to go. God isn’t going to withhold the outpouring of His Spirit because we’ve forgotten some long-ago sin or didn’t confess in enough detail (unless we knowingly are holding something back from him).

      5. There is also the danger of raising the bar too high — of thinking that unless I am experiencing something like what Jonathan Edwards or David Brainerd experienced — then I’m not experiencing anything. We all should long for more — but often in my day when I stop and look to Jesus with faith that I feel the Spirit freeing me, changing my heart, and satisfying me in Christ. It’s not a mountain-top experience. But it’s real, nonetheless.

      I’d love to hear more thoughts on this — and thanks again for your question!

      In Christ,

      Steve

  7. Eric lee says:

    Steve – thanks for your thoughtful response to my questions. It’s given me much to ponder and although I think that I already know much of what you suggest, when I’m honest with myself, I realize that much of the time I’m pretty lazy and half hearted in seeking out Christ and trusting him to be my true treasure. I’m sure I’ll have more questions and angles on this topic do you’ll be hearing back from me again soon!
    P.s. – could you please pray for me that I may experience his presence more fully and be encouraged to seek him out all the more? Thank you.

    Eric

  8. Eric lee says:

    Steve –

    Just wanted to give you an update. These past few weeks have been very difficult and trying for me in that I’ve been struggling with long standing unemployment and some pretty serious health issues that have been affecting my emotional and spiritual well being as well. Since I’ve been reading your blog and really committing myself to seeking out Christ on a daily basis, I’ve experienced a very real and noticeable change in my outlook and even my overall state of well-being. It’s like you repeatedly point out – its a battle sometimes, and it doesn’t always happen overnight or instantaneously – but it WILL happen if we truly set out to seek The Lord’s presence and surrender our all to him. I know there are so many of us out there who are struggling and facing all sorts of problems and trials, and it’s my hope that they might be encouraged to know that they are not alone in their doubt, frustration and fear – its a day to day battle for me as well, but God does listen to and answers our prayers. Oftentimes simple answers and platitudes don’t do much for those of us who are really hurting and struggling. I’m here to simply offer some words of hope and encouragement. God hears you and wants you to trust him through thick and thin. I know for myself that if my faith wasn’t being tested, I’d still live pretty much the way I’ve always lived – a Christian by title but not in practice.
    Keep praying and don’t give up on The Lord – he will never give up on you.

  9. Sylvia Zeller says:

    I love your blog. I just wish I had more time to spend on it! Regarding
    Contentment, Paul says ” I have learned to be content”. We have to learn. To
    Be content. We have to work at it. I. Have lots of ways I personally have
    Leaned “”To be content” and will share that another time.” it is late and I must
    Get to bed. Blessings,

  10. Marla says:

    I think that being content is easier said than done. There are things that I have asked God for, cried out to God for, and I am still waiting. I see others who don’t seem to care either way about God and they have things that I have been asking God for for over 10 years. Does contentment mean that you give up on hopes and desires that you have in this life and just settle for your current situation? What if you are not happy in your current situation. Everyone tells you when you are praying earnestly for that job, baby, or marriage that it will happen just pray about it…but what if you have???

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Marla,

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      I agree that it’s not easy to be content.

      And I might be misunderstanding, but it sounds like you are saying that God is not enough for you to be fully contented. Is that accurate?

      That’s crucial, because contentment is about trusting that Jesus Christ IS your all-satisfying Treasure — and then seeking Him with prayer and the Word until you experience the Holy Spirit making Him that real in your heart.

      When He does, you will be able to join the psalmist and say “Besides You I desire nothing on earth” (Psa 73:25-26). And you will be completely content.

      You ask if contentment meant giving up on hopes and dreams. I believe the answer is No. But you do not seek your fulfillment in those hopes and dreams, because they will never satisfy. Only Jesus Christ will fully satisfy (John 6:35).

      But for the sake of glorifying Christ, for the sake of loving others, for the sake of using our gifts and abilities — it’s good to have dreams and ambitions and passions. We don’t have to have any of these to be content. But we want to seek these for the glory of Christ and the good of others.

      I hope that helps some. Let me know your thoughts.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  11. Son says:

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    great written and include approximately alll important infos.
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