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Hope for the Unhappy Christian and the Beauty of Contentment

On the outside, Chloe appears to have it all together. She is single, has a career and is fairly active in her local church. But she’s lonely, disenchanted by her career and feels detached from her church. The shell that her peers admire conceals her discontentment and joyless Christianity.

Chloe had envisioned a different life for herself. By now, she thought she’d be in her prime, but she’d found herself in a pit of misery. She thought she’d be married, still connected to her college friends, raising a family and mentoring younger Christian women. But her present reality disappointed her expectations. Her discontentment has led her down a dark path of sin, searching for relief but only finding death.

Chloe’s only hope of curing her discontentment and unhappiness is learning the art of contentment and embracing a biblical view of God. Those two things are essential for her joy.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Chloe represents many Christians struggling to cope with the hand they’ve been dealt. Her heart condition not only applies to singles, but the married alike. Every morning, Christians across the country wake up discontent with life—singleness, marriage, career, church or community—and wish they could trade it for a different one.

Our discontentment leads to wishful but hopeless (and sometimes suicidal) thinking. We attempt to replace and eliminate anything that we perceive is linked to our discontentment:

  • “I hate being single, so I should settle.”
  • “My spouse doesn’t satisfy me, so I should get a new one.”
  • “My job isn’t fulfilling, so I should quit.”
  • “My church isn’t exciting, so I should leave.”
  • “Life is full of misery, so I should end it.”
  • “God doesn’t make me happy, so I should reject him.”

However, the problem is not with singleness, marriage, job, church or God. The answer to our problem isn’t always linked to changing our circumstance. The Puritan, Jeremiah Burroughs, wrote,

It is a common saying that there are many people who are neither well when they are full nor when they are fasting. … There are some people who are of such irritable and unpleasant dispositions that no matter what condition they are put in, they are obnoxious. There are some who have unpleasant hearts, and they are unpleasant in every circumstance they encounter. (Contentment, Prosperity, and God’s Glory, 1)

Sick or healthy, single or married, rich or poor, fruitful or barren, hungry or stuffed—regardless of the circumstance—we can find a way to be discontent regardless of our plight in life. The human heart is impossible to satisfy with temporal conditions or earthly goods. We always want more. Life could always be better. As Charles Haddon Spurgeon rightly pointed out, “Remember that a man’s contentment is in his mind, not in the extent of his ?possessions. Alexander, with all the world at his feet, cries for another world to conquer.” However, there is a better way—a path that leads to sweet contentment and true happiness.