God does not want you comfortable. He doesn’t enjoy your pain, but becoming satisfied with the way things are is quite dangerous. This is not as good as it gets! There are many ways in which God uses divine discontent to drive you to your purpose.
If you’re unhappy, unsettled, stirred up, it is not always divine discontent. It could be you are living a life of rush and hurry, or allowing your energy to be spent in people-pleasing, or selfishly grasping for material or temporary things. You could be waiting and hoping for someone else to make you happy. That’s not divine discontent.
But a sense that there’s more, and hungering for that, is a good thing. Often it’s a God thing. More freedom and healing and peace and joy. More healthy intimacy in your marriage. Yes, more being like Jesus. More clarity and sense of purpose in your calling. More impact in the lives of others for the kingdom of God.
So how do you know if what you’re sensing is divine discontent and not some selfish ambition? What do you do about divine discontent? How do you go about finding clarity in your purpose?
We’ll begin this discussion today, and we’ll come back to this in the weeks to come.
Paul and Divine Discontent
This Scripture is often quoted when talking about contentment: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Philippians 4:11-12, see also 1 Timothy 6:6-8)
Paul is talking about material things. He’s not saying don’t work hard, or don’t enjoy good things. He’s saying don’t make material things your goal.
People with money know that money does not bring fulfillment. Some of the most miserable people on earth are those with great riches. Money and things are not bad, but they make a destructive and insatiable god.
Back to Paul. From reading Acts and his letters, can you imagine Paul settling down with a nice little house and a wife and kids, saying and doing whatever would “keep the peace,” keeping his knowledge of Jesus mostly to himself? Never!
Paul was driven, relentless, with a bottomless hunger and zeal. More from Paul:
- “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-13)
- “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:28)
When it came to the kingdom of God, Paul could never be content as long as Jesus was not worshiped everywhere.
Jesus and Divine Discontent
Paul’s great. But what about Jesus? Wasn’t He always content?
The life of Jesus demonstrates so well the difference between being anxious or hurried, and being relentless about the mission.
Nothing in Jesus’ life was about Himself. And yet He exercised great self-care. Jesus spent long hours walking from one place to another with His closest friends, and enjoying leisurely banquets prepared in His honor. You can picture them having conversations about all kinds of things. He spent long hours alone with His heavenly Father. He stayed filled up.
That was completely opposite from what other teachers or leaders were focused on – power, influence, social standing, or material things. Jesus was uninterested in those matters.
And yet could you call Jesus satisfied? While He was completely unhurried, there was something about Him that was relentless – for the kingdom of God. The crowds moved Him with compassion. The distortions through which religious leaders exploited the people moved Him to anger. Death and sickness and bondage and evil – out with you! He was moment-by-moment focused on His mission.
Just a few moments of Jesus’ life that show His “divine discontent”:
- “And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”” (Mark 1:38)
- “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51)
- “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
- “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:50)
Jesus was on a mission. No people-pleasing or comfort here. He was relentless – discontent – until His mission was accomplished.
You and Divine Discontent
If something is stirring in your soul, it may be divine discontent. In fact a complete absence of hunger may mean you’re spiritually dead.
If you are hungry to know Jesus more and become more like Him, that sounds like divine discontent. (Romans 8:29, Philippians 3:10)
If you’re relentless about seeing righteousness prevail in your own life and the lives of others, that’s likely to be divine discontent. (Matthew 5:6)
If there is something God has planted in your soul that you can’t help but give to others, that has the markings of divine discontent. (Acts 4:20)
If there are people whose pain you can’t help but try to solve, blessings or insight or joy you have that you can’t stop giving away, a calling you can’t rest without fulfilling, it’s divine discontent.
Don’t dismiss that divine discontent. Sit with it. Ask questions about it. And ask Jesus to make the next step clear.
Your Turn: Do you have some divine discontent stirring in your soul? What is that pointing you toward? Leave a comment below.
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- If you’re stirred up, unsettled, feeling like there must be more, it might be Divine Discontent. God often uses that to drive you toward your purpose. Tweet that.
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