For the past few years, morning glories have sprouted spontaneously below our deck. Nothing except outright drought keeps them from twining around anything that comes in their path. Every morning we are regaled with a new burst of blue flowers turned toward the sun.
I doubt if morning glories have an itch to grow somewhere new and exotic. Unlike them, an itch to be somewhere else resides in many us. To travel to a new country. To live in a new house. To find a better job or a better church. To climb Mount Kilimanjaro. To hike the Pacific trail. To take the train across Canada or ride a barge on the Danube.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to travel, wanting to get ahead in one’s business, or wanting to grow as a Christian. But sometimes a neurotic discontent with our circumstances haunts us.
Some of us seem habitually unhappy. We moan: if only I’d taken that other job, if only I didn’t have arthritis, if only I had more income, if only I had better friends, if only I lived where there is no winter, if only I’d grown up in a different family, if only I hadn’t had that accident. The “if onlys” destroy our ability to enjoy life. The “if onlys” stunt our growth in grace. They curdle our temperaments, driving people away who might become our friends.
Contentment is such an important Christian grace, rooted as it is in confidence that God knows how to run the universe. Although in prison, Paul wrote: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…in need…to have plenty”(Phil. 4;11,12). Learning to be content is not natural—nor easy—but the alternative is a life of miserable discontent. No wonder we need the indwelling Holy Spirit so we can develop godliness because, “Godliness with contentment is great gain”(1 Tim. 6:6). Check out how Jesus addressed these issues in Matthew 6:25-34.