Content But Not Satisfied - Part 1
- Thursday, July 31, 2008
“He sought to counsel and calm the despairing, to transform the grief that contemplates the grave by showing it the grief that looks up to the stars.”
— Victor Hugo of M. Myriel the Priest
On Sunday July 9, 2006, five children drowned in the Meramec River near Saint Louis and it still wounds me to think of it. An article in the following Tuesday’s newspaper described the desperate moment when one child “slipped beneath the water’s tranquil surface and others rushed to help.” Four of the children belonged to one mourning mother.
I couldn’t stop hurting for her (still cannot stop hurting for her) because, how do you deal with such sudden loss? I doubt very much that she could have answered the question before her faith was tested, before it was proven true. Her story and the calm peace she exemplified in the article humble me. Her calm and trust reminded me that it is indeed possible to endure great trials with faith and to be content in ANY and ALL circumstances.
Although this woman would have given her life to have her children back she did not give into despair. She moved forward in faith while mourning her loss. She was content within her circumstances but not satisfied with her circumstances. So should we be.
The casualties of prolonged singleness (at least where desire for marriage exists) are the dreams of youth and a hope for the future. It may not be the real loss of children but the dreams and hopes of children, the dreams and hopes of growing old with another person. If I am honest I must confess that I am both ecstatic about the life I have been given, the blessings I have received, and that I still long for more. In light of God’s many blessings I am rich beyond measure and content but I would be a liar to say I have all that I want. I am both content and not satisfied.
While I do not always live as though it were true, I understand better what it is to be “content in any and every situation.” But my heart’s desire is still unmet. I have a hunger that is not filled and dreams that have been deferred. I am content within my circumstances but not satisfied with my circumstances.
Despite the cynical voices, contentment does not exclude all desires and wants. Contentment does not demand smiles no matter what. Contentment demands faith and trust in a God who is faithful and trustworthy. Contentment is peace in the midst of hunger. It is an expectant certainty that He will indeed provide our daily bread despite the hunger we now know. But satisfaction is another thing altogether. Satisfaction speaks of approval. It speaks of what is good, what is complete. If it is “not good for the man to be alone” then it is okay that we are dissatisfied.
In fact the Christian life is spent in perpetual dissatisfaction. We are BEING made holy but are not yet holy (Heb. 10:10, 14). We are being transformed by the renewing of our minds but we are not yet there (Rom 12:2). We are being pruned to bear more and more fruit but we have not yet brought in our full crop (Jn. 15:2). We are content with His blessings here and yet our hearts yearn for the day when “He will wipe every tear from [our] eyes.” We look forward to the day when “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev. 21:4). There is an appropriate dissatisfaction even in the midst of our contentment because, for now, all is not right with the world.
When I speak of loneliness and the longing for love it is a particular longing and a specific need. I conceive a difference between being content and satisfied. I am content with the provisions of God. They are good, and I am rich through His mercies. But in the area of relationship (wife) I remain in need—content but not satisfied. I have eaten but am not filled.
It is the dissatisfaction with my circumstances that presses me to hope for more, to try for more. But it is contentment in my circumstances that keeps me from despair. It is okay to be dissatisfied, but we dare not set aside CONTENTMENT! We dare not leave off trust.
We dare not act as spoiled children who trample God’s gifts because all of what we have asked for has not been granted. We must never walk off and pout nor disdain what has been given because of unmet needs. We must take everything from His hand and rejoice that He has loved us enough to provide our daily bread—and more. “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble” (Job 2:10)? Before we can even deal with the content of our dissatisfaction we must root ourselves in trust and known contentment. That is a must. DO NOT FORGET CONTENTMENT!
He knows “it is not good” for us to be alone. He knows this. If He has not blessed us it is because He has judged this circumstance—at least for now—to be best for us. With this I am content because I KNOW He loves me. Whatever our need we are content because we KNOW He loves us.
We are content and so we rejoice always IN THE LORD (Phil. 4.4). We are content and so we “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for [us] in Christ Jesus (1Th. 5:18). We are anxious for nothing and yet “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, [we] present [our] requests to God” (Phil. 4:6). In trust we “cast all [our] anxiety on Him (1Pet. 5:7).” We “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Eph. 6:18). We do this because we are not satisfied, because we have unmet desires and because He cares.
It is our God that has placed us here in our circumstances and we love and trust our God because we know He loves us. We need only know that we are loved. Because He cares we can bring to Him all our wounds, longings, and hopes. It is contentment in our circumstances and the God who oversees all things that will keep us, the dissatisfied, from despair. What I hope is that the honesty of realized and confessed dissatisfaction will free you and me to walk on in faith and allow those who walk with us to better comfort us.
Hudson Russell Davis was born on a small Island in the West Indies called Dominica, and this is only one reason he does not like cold weather and loves guava. He is a graduate of James Madison University with a B.A. in Graphic Design and earned a Masters in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Currently he is a Ph.D. candidate at Saint Louis University studying historical theology. Hudson has worked as a graphic artist and worship leader but expresses himself through poetry, prose, photography, and music. His activities are just about anything outdoors, but tennis is his current passion.
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