Do you know anyone who seems to find the negative in every situation? Do you catch yourself dreading spending time with them because they are simply downers? Or, am I describing you?
Discontentment is a struggle for many people. Going back to the Israelites, we see their struggles with discontentment and how they fail to see the big picture – God’s plan. Sometimes, we can be so focused in the moment we fail to see God’s blessing and provision.
For instance, when the Israelites complain and claim they’d rather return to slavery in Egypt where they can eat something better than the manna God sends them from Heaven. They were complaining about being fed manna from Heaven on their journey out of slavery and into the Promised Land!
They did not have to plant, sow, weed, or harvest the manna. They just had to go out every morning and gather it. That’s quite a blessing. Perfect nutrition from God himself.
It is easy for us who hear this story to scoff and act as if we’d never act like the Israelites. However, even Christians struggle with discontentment. Look around you – how many people spend their time searching for other things to make them content rather than being thankful for what God has given them already? Or worse, how often do you hear people complain about their blessings?
If this is a struggle for you, God can change your heart and your attitude. Let’s look at how thanksgiving teaches us contentment.
The Season of Thanksgiving
The season of Thanksgiving is the perfect time to do an honest evaluation of your gratitude meter. The Thanksgiving holiday is a time when we are encouraged to give thanks, making it the best time to reflect on God’s faithfulness in this past year and all the years before. We gather with those we love, break bread, and give thanks to the Lord above for all He has done and all He will do.
Give Thanks in Everything
There’s a catch, however. It is easy at Thanksgiving to express gratitude for the things in your life that seem like blessings. It is much harder, especially for those who are not content, to give thanks in all circumstances.
“Give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:18
However, this is exactly what we should do as Christians. We know every good and perfect gift comes from above, but often, our humanity only allows us to see the “good and perfect” and not how God uses “every gift” to bring Him glory and make us more like His Son (James 1:17; Romans 8:28-29). It is hard to thank God during the trial, the disaster, and the hardship. But, because we can trust His faithfulness, we can also trust His plan.
Thanksgiving Breeds Contentment
It is when we learn to thank God in everything that we will begin to grow more content. You may be asking how you can change your attitude from one of discontentment to one of contentment. Ultimately, thanksgiving breeds contentment. Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote to those in the church of Philippi:
“For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
– Philippians 4:11-13
Paul knows the secret to being content in all circumstances. His secret is trusting God. Are you content in all circumstances or is this an area in which you struggle? As you begin to make an effort to praise Him in all things, you will begin to see more and more for which to thank Him. Ultimately, you will be more and more content.
Jesus Gave Thanks
As followers of Jesus, another way we can follow him is by giving thanks. For example, we are familiar with the miracle of the fish and loaves, but let’s look at Matthew 14:19 more carefully:
“And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.”
Jesus took the fish and loaves, as few as they were, and looking to heaven, he gave thanks. Jesus thanked God for the fish and loaves even before they were multiplied. In the Book of Mysteries by Jonathan Cahn, the writer explains, “You take what little you have, whatever good there is, and you do what the Messiah did […] and the blessings you have will multiply, if not in the world, then in your heart. The more you give thanks, the less you will hunger, and the more full and blessed your life will be.”
Thankfulness Changes Our Hearts
When you give thanks regularly, God changes your heart. The more you thank God, the more you will begin to see all the reasons to thank God. As you move from thanking God just for the good to thanking him in all circumstances, you will feel more and more satisfied and happy with life. Soon, you will trust Him more than ever before as you see his hand on everything in life.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 4:4-7