I was talking recently with an older gentleman who was simply unhappy with his life. Nothing was going right, and it seemed that nothing had gone right for a period of time that painfully stretched over some thirty odd years of his life. He wasn't as troubled as he was simply resigned to the notion that he wasn't meant to be happy. He was satisfied to be dissatisfied. His expectations for the future were completely entangled in the miseries of his past...a past that was hopelessly strangling his present. Oddly, this man claimed a relationship with God. Or, maybe that isn't so odd?
There are unhappy Christians all over the place. If you don't believe me, attend church. Any church will do. These unhappy and conspicuously discontented children of God are easy to spot, because you will also find, in the same church, people who are happy, content, worshipful, and people who display a grace that only a right relationship with God can produce. The contrast is striking, if you take the time to notice.
So, why do some Christians bubble with joy while others seem to exist in a state of eternal unhappiness? Is it because God is better to some than He is to others? Maybe the happy Christians are just crazy, and the ones who frown all the time are just realists?
Unhappiness always stems from dissatisfaction. (I know, you're marveling at my psychological prowess, but stay with me for a moment.) We can quickly become dissatisfied with almost anything when it fails to meet our lofty expectations. Marriages end because of dissatisfaction. Children are estranged from their families because of dissatisfaction. Tremendous debt is often created as a side effect of the mentality of dissatisfaction. Christians become victims of 'church-hurt' because of dissatisfaction. There are thousands of examples that prove one point...dissatisfaction is dangerous, and dissatisfaction carries with it consequences that can be catastrophic to our lives, if not deadly.
Here's a deep concept, but it's the truth: We were not built to be satisfied by anything this world has to offer, if those things are independent from our walk in God's will.
We were 'built' by God Almighty for His purposes...
"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." – Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
God built fish to swim. Fish find little enjoyment in golf, and I would assume that the vast majority of fish would be uncomfortable catching a few rays while lounging on the beach. Fish are happiest doing what God created them to do. Not only that, fish begin to die the moment they stop doing what God created them to do. Ok, I know that's a silly example, but it is the truth...
Just like God created fish to swim, He created us for a purpose. We like to fill the life that we have been given with many things that are not God's purposed plans for us. These things are not necessarily bad, but they can be effective distractions from the will of our Lord. If we allow our love of sports, travel, politics, the opposite sex, etc...to become what drives our life, then God is definitively pushed out of His rightful place as our #1 priority. Consequently, when we are distracted enough by other 'things' to push God Almighty out of first place in our life, then it's impossible to determine how far down our list of misplaced priorities that He may end up. As we miss-prioritize God in our life, it's a guarantee that our dissatisfaction will grow. The greater tragedy is that when we miss-prioritize God in our life, we begin to die spiritually.
The stark contrast that exists between the happy and content Christians and those who are not is, at the very least, a dissatisfaction in their life with God. They may not even realize this as being the problem, but I would wager that it's almost always at the very root of their unhappiness. When God is not our priority, the things that we carefully put in His rightful place all become part of the bigger problem. Instead of these things leading us to contentment, they only give us a thirst for more, because these temporal things will not satisfy. Only God can satisfy.
We will only be satisfied when we are firmly planted in God's will...doing what He created us to do. We will only reflect the glory of God in our life when find a deep and abiding satisfaction in Him, and that satisfaction requires relationship.
I want to be satisfied with God. There's a saying...'if all you have is God, then you have more than you need.' I want that saying to be real in my life, because I want to freely give God that kind of authority in every part of my being.
I want to be satisfied with God in every circumstance because:
For our lives to truly reflect the glory of God, our satisfaction with Him must be realized. We must seek Him on a level that is deeper than the spiritual 'shopping spree' of a Sunday morning worship service or a small group on the latest popular Bible study. We must alter our perception of God as only a trouble-shooter for the problems in our life. We have to open our heart to real communication with God...communication that lies beyond praying over our food. We must bow our knee and surrender our will to the perfection of His plan, and that kind of surrender doesn't come cheap...and it also doesn't go unrewarded.
Our satisfaction lies solely in God. The many things that we interject into our life, apart from God's will, only leads us to more problems. If you're dissatisfied in your life, let me encourage you to take a good look at your walk with God. Is that walk thriving? Is it growing? Is it developing in you a passion for the things of God? If it's not, then the root of your problem has been identified. Give up your dissatisfaction, and surrender to the grace and perfection of God's will. Life will always bring about more trouble, but God is forever good. Be satisfied; God is more than enough!
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!