Can We Ever Be Content?

I know the purpose of life is not to be happy. In fact, the question “does that make you happy?” really irks me because the answer doesn’t matter. The New Testament clearly tells us Christians won’t be happy. We’ll be persecuted and knocked down and put in prison and that’s how it’s supposed to be. But in the midst, I’ve always comforted myself—not that I’ve ever been in the midst of prison or a beating, but metaphorically speaking—in the thought that contentment could be attained no matter your circumstances. Contentment is what we strive for instead of happiness.

As with most of my brilliant life theories, I’ve recently begun to wonder if that’s wrong, if contentment is also not to be striven for. I began second-guessing myself when speaking with a woman several years older than I am. She confessed to struggling with contentment throughout her twenties. I told her I also struggle with that and asked what helped her feel content during that decade.

Her answer? Basically, nothing. Because, she explained, this is not our home. So we will always long for something more. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It only proves that contentment does exist; we just won’t find it while we dwell in our fallen world.

Well crap. Discovering that what you’re working toward doesn’t actually exist is a little disheartening.  I’m now left staring down what was my path to contentment and wondering if anything is at the end of it. Should I change directions altogether or continue to pursue the unattainable?

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22 thoughts on “Can We Ever Be Content?

  1. The question of whether something makes you happy also irks me, I must admit. 🙂 I’d rather be where God wants me to be than to do something that makes me happy (although figuring out where God wants you is another topic entirely… :D).

    I think there’s a lot of truth in what that lady said about how we can’t ever really be content here. I, for one, am always second-guessing myself and whether I’m making the right decisions and whether something is “right.” 🙂

    Awesome post. Miss you Andrea!

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  2. The question of whether something makes you happy also irks me, I must admit. I’d rather be where God wants me to be than to do something that makes me happy (although figuring out where God wants you is another topic entirely… :D).

    I think there’s a lot of truth in what that lady said about how we can’t ever really be content here. I, for one, am always second-guessing myself and whether I’m making the right decisions.

    Awesome post. Miss you Andrea!

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  3. Paul wrote in Phillippians 4:11 that he had learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I think the key is that our contentment abides in God, not in circumstance. He is sufficient for all our needs, so by drawing near to Him, and trusting Him in the midst of our trials, we can overcome our desire for the things of this World (and yes, I struggle to put that into practice!). In a sense, when we seek and obey His will, we bring a part of Heaven to Earth, so we don’t need to wait until we reach the afterlife to know contentment.

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  4. I really can relate to this post because I have been on the path of contentment for so long. One thing I have decided to strive to attain is joy which comes from the Holy Spirit. It is way better than happiness

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  5. I can relate. Actually, something happened to me last night that has me searching desperately for contentment. First off, I have to point out that this is only my opinion. Even though I think I could back it up with scripture if I did a study on this, but as of right now I have no scripture to back this up. I think contentment is like perfection. Not the worlds idea of perfection, but God’s idea of perfection. We are called to be “perfect” and to live like Jesus Christ lived on earth. Will we ever get there while we are here on this earth……of course not. Are we suppose to strive for it anyways………of course we are. I would have to agree with your friend, that perfect contentment will never be met here on earth just because we are aliens here and we will always long to be “home”. However, we are still suppose to strive towards it like we are suppose to strive towards emulating all of the characteristics of Jesus Christ.

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  6. There’s a difference between contenment and satisfaction. We can — and should — be content here on Earth, regardless of our circumstances, bc of our relationship with Christ (Phil 4:11). However, we’ll be fully satisfied when we are finally at Home.

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  7. That part where you said “Well crap.” LOL you sound a lot like me!

    But yeah, I think we’re talking about different contentments. Content with material things or lack there of – yes. Content with how close we are to God – no. Content with the trials God allows – yes. Content that life will NEVER be without strife/trial (even in eternity) – no.

    I think you’re on the right track, if your contentment is in being in the center of God’s will…yet patiently waiting for the day that His Will is going to way easier and more awesome (eternity).

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    1. I think this is the best reply because it very well summarizes what I was thinking. Obviously contentment is measured by what you are looking at. Can you be content WITH life, absolutely and Paul demonstrated and spoke of that in the verse in Philippians that everybody has referred. He was content WITH his life and the circumstances of his life. However he was not content IN his life and I think this is what he spoke of in chapters 1 through 3 of Philippians, In chapter 1 he debates whether it would be better for him to go to Christ or remain for the Church because he was not content separated from God and he longed to be with God like we have a longing for more and then in Chapter 3 when he spoke of confidence in the flesh, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do; forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

      Can we be content with life and the trails and rewards that we have in our individual lives? Yes. Should we be content in our lives and where we are in life? No.

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  8. I’d really love to have a long conversation with you, sister. We think about the same things it seems. I can only imagine that we would benefit each other as we exchange our slack-jawed stares into the vast expanse of Creation and the even more vast expanse of our development as God’s children.
    ~AngelicLionheart

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  9. Here’s another tough question for you, then: if Christians won’t be happy anyway, and contentment is unattainable, how do we keep from being ungrateful?
    I just find it really hard to believe the world would perceive us as a reflection of Jesus when I know of many Christians who aren’t happy or content – and thus don’t radiate gratefulness. It’s a tricky balance.

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  10. I think you can find contentment – Paul seemed to suggest that. However, I think contentment comes in Jesus Christ, not in things or circumstances. When I focus on God in the midst of my circumstances, on who he is and what he has done for me in Christ, I can be content. That’s what matters. Not whether I’ve achieved my personal or career goals. That kind of contentment can be had no matter what kind of curves or ups and downs comes your way.

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  11. like others have already said, we’ll never be truly content if we’re trying to find contentment in possessions or other people or awesome experiences-those things aren’t meant to fulfill us. in phillipians, paul talks about being content in every situation-hungry, well fed, in want, in need- and then immediately after, he says he can do all this through Christ who gives him strength. so we know the key to contentment is in Christ but it’s comforting for me to think about how Paul also says he has *learned* to be content… not like it was something that happened all of a sudden. i imagine at the very beginning of his ministry he had a hard time being content when he was blinded on the road and then was distrusted by the Jews he was trying to reach out to. by the time he writes to the Phillipians he’s learned that even when he is hungry or in need physically, God is faithful. and how do we learn to do anything? by practice.

    love the questions and love the author. keep ’em coming.

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