The Christian’s unhappiness, discontentment and the way we view God are directly linked. Discontentment screams, “You deserve better!” and whispers, “God is not giving you what you deserve.” The former screams are blatantly false, but the latter whispers are profoundly true. Satan is the master of mixing lies with truths.
It’s a lie that you deserve better. The statement also assumes that you know what’s best and that God’s gifts aren’t best for you. The lie leads you to believe that you’re wiser than God and interprets his direction for your life as an attack rather than a mercy and gift.
It’s true that God is not giving you what you deserve. We deserve God’s wrath, yet daily we receive new mercies. How can sickness, suffering and other tragedies be considered mercy? By realizing that every morning we don’t wake up in hell is an example of God’s mercy toward us. Even when we’re feeling our worst, God is showing us more mercy than we deserve. There is no calamity or tragedy that we can face that is worse than the holy wrath of God. At the same time, there is no earthly pleasure that can compare to the glory that is to be revealed. This is how the Apostle Paul faced suffering, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
With this in mind, on our worst day, he’s worthy of thanksgiving and praise for all he’s done. Or as we use to say in church growing up, “If God never does another thing for us, he’s already done enough.” This view of God’s goodness reflects a humble heart before a holy and good God. This perspective enables us to suffer well, knowing that the best is yet to come.
But we can go even further. As we fight daily against discontentment, we must interpret everything that comes our way as a reason to rejoice. Again, Burroughs writes,
Have good thoughts of God and make good interpretations of his dealings toward you. It is very hard to live comfortably and cheerfully among friends when one makes harsh interpretations of the words and actions of another. The only way to keep sweet contentment and comfort in Christian societies is to make the best interpretations of things we can. Likewise, a primary way to help keep comfort and contentment in our hearts is to make good interpretations of God’s dealings with us. (Contentment, Prosperity, and God’s Glory, 7)
Imagine if we truly believed what the Bible says about how God sees us. It would transform the way we interpret all his actions as mercies. I know that in the midst of my battles with discontentment and besetting sins, it’s hard to view what is happening in my life as anything but a condemnation and punishment.
God’s Mercies, Our Joy
Like Chloe, our dissatisfaction with life will inevitably lead us into a cycle of discontentment, sin, guilt and depression if left unchecked. Discontentment will eventually lead to sin, sin to guilt, guilt to depression and depression back to discontentment. This cycle slowly destroys everything we encounter and touch, leaving us joyless and empty. In order to break this deadly cycle, the pursuit of joy is essential. James 1.2–4″>James 1:2–4 complements the words of Burroughs,
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.