Larry’s seminary professor bought the BMW of his dreams. The high lasted—about a week. Michael Hyatt’s book made the New York Times Best Sellers list. The thrill lasted—maybe 24 hours. These men’s honesty over their short-lived satisfaction busts the common myth: Contentment means getting what I want.
Looking for Contentment in All the Wrong Places
Since Proverbs 13:12 (NIV) says, “a longing fulfilled is a tree of life,” why didn’t these men’s fulfilled longings bring contentment? Accomplishing dreams brings satisfaction when we’re pursuing the right dreams and aren’t expecting them to provide more than they can deliver. Scripture provides helpful insights on contentment.
The Greek word autarkeia is translated contentment in 1 Timothy 6:6 (NASB) and means “satisfaction with what one has.”:
But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.”
The same Greek work is translated sufficiency in 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NASB):
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”
Here it means “sufficiency of the necessities of life.” 
When we believe God supplies all we need (Ps. 23:1), we experience contentment. Knowing our Lord deeply loves us, protects us, and provides for every material, emotional, and spiritual need changes our perception of what we need. When we think we lack some necessity, then even the pleasures and accomplishments we have lose their luster.
I experienced this one wedding anniversary. A 25th anniversary carries certain expectations. We’d watched friends take special trips. Ours arrived at a financially tight time. We couldn’t afford a night away, let alone a week in Europe.
Some friends invited us to share their tickets to a charity ball that fell on our special date. I pictured a fairy tale night. One problem, Cinderella had no dress for the ball. I searched second-hand stores and couldn’t find anything I liked. I felt poor.
Better than a Fairy Godmother
Unexpectedly, someone gave a large donation to our ministry the week before the ball. Larry withdrew some much needed back pay which meant I could afford a new dress!
Now that I no longer felt poor, I no longer cared if I wore a second-hand dress. That donation reminded me God loves me and delights in meeting my needs. I had a wonderful time in a borrowed dress.
Feeling poor created a longing for a new dress. I thought a dress would fill my lack. However, my real need was to know God cared for me. When I felt taken care of and could afford a new dress, I no longer wanted one.
I believe in working for our dreams. However, accomplishments can’t plug a hole in our souls. “But the cheerful heart has a continual feast” (Pro. 15:15 NIV).
If you struggle with discontentment, consider these questions:
- Am I feeling poor, unloved, or insignificant?
- Do I tell myself: “When I get ______, then I’ll be content”?
- How would believing God loves me and wants to satisfy me change my perspective?
Be honest with God. Ask Him to fill the empty places and open your eyes to the riches He has for you.
Contentment doesn’t come from getting what we want but from appreciating what we have and knowing God loves us and meets all our needs.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing” (Ps. 34:10 NIV).
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