Holy Discontentment

March 31, 2002

HOLY DISCONTENTMENT by Ray Pritchard Last Sunday I mentioned in my sermon that living by faith requires a certain kind of “discontentment” with the way things are. The next day I received the following e-mail: “I had a question regarding your message on Sunday morning. Paul writes in Philippians chapter 4 that he has learned to be content in every circumstance, ‘ whether well fed or hungry.’ And on Sunday, I learned that we should live with a discontented spirit while in this world. How do I live with a discontented spirit, while following the example of Paul?” That strikes me as a very good question. I think the answer goes like this. There is a sense in which living by faith requires a measure of holy discontent. You’ve got to want some things that you don’t have in order to have faith because faith always deals with things “hoped for.” If you’ve already got everything you need and want and desire, and if for you all the promises of God have already come true, and if you’ve reached a state of spiritual perfection, if all your prayers have been answered, and if all your loved ones are saved and serving the Lord, if there is no lack anywhere in any area that you can see, you don’t need faith because you’re living in heaven already and you just don’t realize it. Last Sunday I met a man who was weeping over some heartbreaking news from his son. Then I talked with a man who spoke about a family crisis that has brought him to his knees. Later we visited a family in the hospital and prayed over a child who needs a miracle from the Lord. On Monday I got an e-mail from someone who feels that life isn’t worth living. And another one from someone seeking advice over a broken relationship. And another one asking a question about a loved one who recently died. And another about a family member in jail. The list of human problems is endless because we live in a deeply fallen world. As long as marriages break up, and children suffer, and as long as the killing continues, and our leaders disappoint us, and as long as there is hatred and violence and prejudice and all manner of evil in the world, we will need faith because the “things hoped for” have not yet come to pass. We can be content with what we have because God will always give us whatever we need when we truly need it. At the same time we should have a holy discontentment with the sin and pain and sorrow we see all around us. While we accept that this is the way things are, we are also to say, “This isn’t the way things ought to be,” and thus we pray because we are waiting for better things to come in God’s time and according to God’s promise.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?