A Lesson in Contentment

A Lesson in Contentment (This is a guest post I did a month back for ChristianPF.com)

There’s nothing to eat,” I murmured to myself as I stood staring endlessly into my kitchen pantry. You know the position-arms braced on each side of the door, slightly leaning back gazing deeper and deeper into the dark recesses desperately hoping for something to appeal to my appetite. No luck. “Ehhhh, there is nothing to eat,” I muttered under my breath hoping perhaps the fridge would host greater luck. Then God spoke to me. As I was walking to the fridge, He urged me to look in the pantry again. The items listed below are the contents of my pantry at that moment of despair:

4 Boxes of Cereal, 2 Containers of Oatmeal, Box of Pancake Mix, Large bag of Raisins, Bag Full of Leftover Christmas Candy, 1/2 Bag of Chips, 1/2 Bag of Beef Jerky, Peanut Butter, Craisins, Ready to make Soup, Jar of Roasted Peanuts, Box of Apple Cider Mix, Hot Chocolate Mix, Green Tea, Travel Coffee Singles, Honey, Syrup, Salad Dressing, Potato, 2 Sweet Potatoes, Nutella, Crackers, Cinnamon Raisin Bread, 2 Packages of Flour, 4 Varieties of Oil, Rice, Wheat, Coconut, Corn Syrup, Chocolate Chips, Nuts, Brown Sugar, Sugar, Baking Powder, Granola Bars, Canned Food: Chicken Noodle Soup, 3 Beef Broths, 1 Chicken Broth, Tomato Sauce, 2 Diced Tomatoes, Chili, Cream of Chicken, Cream of Mushroom Soup, Navy Beans, Green Beans, and Re-fried Beans, and Pumpkin.

Then it hit me: Is this what I have come to call an “empty” pantry? The realization left me humbled. I think we find ourselves surrounded by unimaginable levels of comfort, luxury, and ease, yet contentment still seems so elusive. A few days later I ran into this sermon quote by Charles Spurgeon:

“When men have too much of God’s mercies-strange that we should have to say this, and yet it is a great fact-when men have much of God’s providential mercies, it often happens that they have but little of God’s grace, and little gratitude for the bounties they have received. They are full, and they forget God; satisfied with earth, they are content to do without heaven. Rest assured, my dear hearers, it is harder to know how to be full than it is to know how to be hungry.” – Charles Spurgeon (Sermon No. 320)

While it seems strange, I believe Spurgeon is dead on. It is harder to be content when we have more. Sadly, it is too often the case that the more God blesses us the less we are thankful, and the more we crave. We fall into the lie that the “next” promotion, neighborhood, car, or tax bracket will finally satisfy our souls.

I challenge myself, and the rest of you, to begin the process of learning to be content (Phil. 4:11). It will not occur naturally, nor-as the evidence clearly indicates-will it be the fruit of a life filled with good things. Ironically, the accumulation of stuff drives our discontentment. May we all begin to see clearly the challenge contentment poses in prosperity, and cling to Christ for our ultimate fulfillment.

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