Dissatisfaction, and What to Do About It

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According to something Paul wrote, Christians should never, ever feel dissatisfied.  Here’s what he wrote to a young preacher named Timothy:

But Godliness with contentment is great gain.  (1 Timothy 6:6  KJV)

Being “content” is the opposite of being “dissatisfied.”  The word “dissatisfaction” means “discontented,” “lacking pleasure in that which one has.”  Does that describe how you feel?  If you’re a Christian and you are feeling dissatisfied, you’re in trouble.  Let’s see what we can do to get you feeling like you should be feeling.

Some of you are thinking it, so let me state that sometimes you should feel dissatisfied.  For example, if you are living out of God’s will, you ought to feel dissatisfied.  You should never feel content living a shallow Christian life.  If you are trying to live the holy and righteous life to which you have been called, you shouldn’t feel content taking the paths of least resistance.   You should never be content with doing the very least and settling for middling results.  If you are living your life just marking time, shame on you if you are content.  So, sometimes it’s very good to feel dissatisfied.  However, there are far too many Christians who are experiencing an unwholesome, unhealthy sense of dissatisfaction.  You can spot them easily.  They are the ones in church who are never smiling and always complaining about how easy others have it and how tough their lives are.  They are the ones who (as they see it) do all the work but get no recognition while the layabouts get the credit.   Maybe that’s you.

Paul’s statement to Timothy suggests that it is desirable for Christians to live a Godly life of contentment.  The stumbling block to living this way is dissatisfaction; it is the chief cause of misery, depression, frustration, quarreling, dishonesty, and often leads to a life of lawlessness, full of felonious behavior.  And it leads to wrong-headed thinking.  The mistaken notion that “if I just have more money then I’d be happy,” has led many Christians to make decisions that resulted in fractured marriages, broken relationships, and feelings of shame and guilt.  Does this describe how you feel:

Because of your anger, my body is sick, my health is broken beneath my sins. They are like a flood, higher than my head; they are a burden too heavy to bear.  (Psalm 38:3, 4  TLB)

In the America of the twenty-first century, dissatisfaction is everywhere.  Look around you and you’ll see the awful results of dissatisfaction:  wars, broken families, split churches, divided communities, wrecked friendships, spoiled children, marred character, ruined reputations and stolen virtue.   How many churches, ministers and ministries has dissatisfaction led out of God’s will?  How many people has dissatisfaction damned to an eternity away from God?  It drives people to drink.  It caused Cain to murder his own brother.  Yes, the ground is saturated with the blood of dissatisfaction.  It robbed Saul of his kingdom and led David to commit the twin sins of adultery and murder.  It trapped Israel in the dead-end pursuit of idols and idolatry.  It caused Judas to betray Christ, John Mark to back away from his ministry and Demas to forsake both Paul and God’s calling.   And, if you aren’t careful, dissatisfaction will cause you to think things and ultimately do things you once swore you would have no part in.  If you allow it, dissatisfaction will invade your life like a plague, making you hard to live with, driving your family and friends away.  It will color the way you view everything, including God.

Well, that was a depressing paragraph!  So, just what can you do about it?

Some folk are more susceptible to being dissatisfied than others, but we all need to guard against it.

Practical steps

Here are some practical steps to avoid feelings of dissatisfaction.  The first one is don’t be afraid of the facts of your life.  Recognize and admit your weaknesses and your needs.  Then realize that nobody’s life is perfect.  Your house needs some work, but then everybody’s does from time to time.  Powerwash your siding and paint your trim.  Work out a little.  Do some “push-aways,” as in “push away from the table.”  Stop thinking those people you admire on television are real.  It’s surprising how good you’ll feel when look at your circumstances soberly then work at improving them.

If you’re dissatisfied with your spouse, try to be a better one yourself.  Odds are you’re the problem, but even if you aren’t, you should be the solution.

You might do well to realize that while you may not like your job, at least you have one.  A lot of people don’t.  And while you work at appreciating your job, try to be an encouragement to others at work.  If you find your job difficult, you can be sure they do to.  It’s amazing how good you’ll feel as you encourage others!  It’s almost sinfully selfish!

Spiritual steps

I’m assuming that you are a Christian.  If you aren’t, the first thing you need to do is to own up to the fact that you need Christ.  You need to become a godly person.  A discontented man once came to Jesus, and our Lord gave him this advice:

You must be born again…  (John 3:7b TLB)

Most new Christians are excited and enthusiastic about their new-found faith, but it doesn’t take long for those old feelings of dissatisfaction to come back.  Yes, Christians are certainly not immune to this, so when you as a Christian sense dissatisfaction creeping back into you life life, recall what Jesus said in John 10:10-

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  (NIV)

If you are a Christian, probably the single most important thing you can do to head off feelings of dissatisfaction is to learn to know the will of God for your life.  The first step in this is reading and meditating on the Word of God, the Bible.  The Bible is the most remarkable book ever written.  It’s like a tonic.  It can calm your nerves and settle your mind.  As you read it, you begin to see things in perspective.  It will, if you let it, lead you into a life of godliness and contentment.

And of course, you need to pray; you need to talk to God.  Got a problem, speak to God about it.  Need something?  Ask God!  Then trust that God will do what needs to be done.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  (Isaiah 26:3  NIV)

Being out of the will of God is the very worst place a Christian can find himself.  He becomes a misfit in God’s kingdom and a misfit in his church.  This leads to a terrible sense of dissatisfaction.  And being out of the will of God happens so easily!  What may have been God’s will for you years ago may not be now.  You need to learn to seek His will continually.  Life is fluid and so is the Lord’s will for you.  Rediscover it!  Live it!

Ultimately, living a godly and contented life comes down to doing your part then waiting on God to do His.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  (Proverbs 3:5, 6  NIV)

That’s the secret right there, from the smartest man who ever lived, King Solomon.   Way too many of us are way too restless and unsettled because we aren’t really trusting in the Lord; we are depending on ourselves.

Look, let’s face it.  Nobody has a perfect life.  Nobody has enough of everything.  There is no perfect church.  There is no perfect government.  There are no perfect pastors, spouses, children or even pets.  Everybody’s car will break down and toilet overflow.  But you can still live cheerfully and contentedly, doing your best to make your church or your family or your job or your community better places.  Trust me, other people will love to have you around when you get rid of dissatisfaction once and for all.

A good life here and a better life in the hereafter are the guaranteed results of discovering  – and living – the truth of what Paul said:

Godliness with contentment is great gain.

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