Contentment is finding rest and peace in my present circumstance, viewing it as appropriate and satisfactory, so long as my very basic needs are met. (1Ti 6:8) The secret to getting ahead is realizing I’m already there: right now, there’s no better place for me to be than where I am. (1Ti 6:6)
Discontent is my alternative: chaffing against and resisting my condition because I believe I deserve better. It’s a state of turbulent unthankfulness, disappointment, covetousness and lust (Is 57:20); as long as I’m exalting myself above my circumstances I’ll never be satisfied. (Pr 27:20)
The key to contentment must then be humility, fully aligning with God as to what I deserve so my expectations are appropriate. It’s all about perspective.
What do I deserve then?
Reality is, no matter what condition I find myself in, God’s being incredibly merciful to me (La 3:22-23): He’s not giving me what I deserve. He’s never fully dealt with any living soul according to their true sinfulness. (Ps 103:10) Even as I fear Him and serve Him the best I know how, His mercy toward me is infinite. (11) Until I’m burning in the deepest infernos of Hell, I’m under mercy (Ps 23:6); I deserve infinite punishment. (La 3:39)
So when I’m complaining, ungrateful, unthankful and restless because I don’t have whatever, I’m despising the tender, infinite mercy of God, walking in the primal lie that God’s not good. (Ge 3:5)
Wisdom learns contentment through experience (Php 4:11); finding security and comfort in God’s faithful provision rather than in having physical/mental health or material wealth. (He 13:5-6) It learns in every circumstance to live from a perception of fullness and sufficiency rather than lack (Php 4:12), because God’s provision is not only merciful, it’s perfect for His purposes. (Ro 8:28)
Clearly, contentment ought not to breed laziness or complacency; we ought to be industrious (Pr 13:23), innovative and disciplined (Pr 6:10-11) in bettering our lives and those of others. (Ep 4:28) It’s hard for anyone to seek God and glorify Him when struggling to merely survive; we’re to remember the destitute and do what we can to help. (Ga 2:10)
Yet in pursuing the forbidden to satiate our cravings we self-deceive (Pr 5:20); even when we manage to succeed, it’s ultimately pointless and empty. (Ec 2:11)
By design, only God Himself can satisfy. (Ep 3:19) Everything else I could ever desire is merely a shadow reminding me of Him. (Ps 72:25) When my soul is discontent, the cure is seeking God Himself, to feed in His majesty. (Mi 5:4)