Give Thanks for All Things, Happiness Lies in Contentment

By Wei Chen

Not long ago, a friend chatted with me and mentioned her colleague’s mother. She had lived in a 100-square-meter house and had led a superior life. However, his mother was not contented and always envied others who lived in villas. As she was gloomy, she nagged her son, saying that only a life like that is a high-quality life. So, in order to let his mother live in a villa, he worked hard to enlarge his business. Unexpectedly, he failed in his business and was short of money. Thus, he had to sell their 100-square-meter house. And his mother had to live with him in a humble abode, tens of square meters.

I can’t help thinking of the story “The Fisherman and the Goldfish”: In order to repay the fisherman for saving its life, the goldfish says it can meet all requirements of the fisherman. The fisherman’s wife wants a new wooden basin, and then she gets it. His wife wants a big house, and then she gets it too. But she is still not content and wants to be a grand dame. When she becomes a grand dame, she even wants to be a queen. Because she is never contented, in the end, the goldfish ignores her, and their life returns to the beginning. This fairy tale tells us that man’s lust is without an end.

One day, I accidentally read a passage of word on the internet: “Life is full of blessings, but people are not content. Those who calculate to carry burdens will suffer, while the ones going empty-handed are blessed. Those who calculate to walk will suffer, while the ones riding an ass are blessed. Those who calculate to pursue material comforts will suffer, while the ones who are content with having clothes and food are blessed….” It’s right. Only those who are contented will feel happy and joyful. Most people approve of it in doctrines, but in real life, how many people among us can truly practice it?

When we are tenants and are always laboring for moving to another house, we want to have a house to ourselves, and even a small one can make us contented. But when we really own a house, we begin to envy others’ bigger houses, thinking that a bigger house looks better and is more comfortable to live in. When we see others have cars, we also expect a car, thinking that as long as it can be used to drive instead of walk, it is okay. But after we own a car, we find others own prestige cars, which are more elegant than ours, we begin to pursue to own a prestige car. When we get a pay raise, we want more; when we have a career, we want it bigger; when we have an official position, we want a higher one…. Our desires always make us have endless requirements for our lives, and discontent is also like shadows following our forms. In our knowledge, nothing’s perfect, but only better!

Therefore, we unceasingly change our goals, and like a wound clock, we keep catching up and working hard. Discontent seems to be our driving force, but like a poisonous root, this discontent is deeply planted in our heart, making us often live in pain for unsatisfied desires. When we long for something but can’t get it, we will sink into a deep depression and pain. Gloom winds around us at night and ties in a knot; sorrow hovers in our heart and lingers on. We never feel released in our heart, and only our heart knows its own bitterness…. After weeping, and experiencing pain and grief, we may exhort ourselves: Be contented! It is pretty good to be content. But another voice tells us: It is incapable to be contented; resting on laurels is unwilling to seek progress; and man shouldn’t be contented. So, no matter where we are, or no matter what kind of faith we have, we are all enticed by our desires. Discontent always draws our heart and tells us never to stop!

I remembered the Bible says, “The horse leach has two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yes, four things say not, It is enough: The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that said not, It is enough” (Proverbs 30:15–16). What these verses talk about is precisely our insatiable desire. It is just like the horse leach which never sucks enough blood, like Hades in which there are never enough dead to accommodate, or like the barren womb which is never satisfied with pregnancy. And it is even like the earth that is not filled with water, and the fire, which never says that it is enough.

I thought of the insatiable mother and the fisherman’s wife mentioned above. Just because of the desires in their heart, they wanted to get a better enjoyment, but in the end they lost their present life, and even lived in pain for their unsatisfied desires. Their discontent brought them endless sorrow. However, in real life, countless numbers of people excessively seek to meet the lust in their heart, and as a result, what their pursuit brings them is not only endless pain but moreover lingering grief. Because people lust after money, position, power, and women, they commit many sins such as jealousy, craftiness, and cheat. In order to achieve their intentions, they even commit violence and murders. People crazily seek after fame and profits and pursue the material enjoyment, so much so that they fall into the nets of Satan and are unable to extricate themselves, and even go to hell step by step. This is because discontent is from man’s greedy nature, and man’s greedy nature is from the corruption of Satan. Satan prettifies greed and discontent as a kind of positive energy, makes us believe discontent is the manifestation of ambition and aspiration, and makes us accept this view into our heart. We, who have no discernment, begin to blindly pursue to meet our ambitions and aspirations. When our greed and lust expansion get out of hand, it is exactly the time when we are destroyed. When we see the terrible outcomes brought by discontent, we should wake up our insatiable heart to seek the secret of content and joy, staying away from being poisoned by Satan.

Once I saw a passage of God’s word: “After they start believing in God, people gain some truths, and the happiness these truths bring is sufficient to replace the happiness brought to people by material things, enjoyment and comfort. The more you gain those things, the less satisfied you are, and the less you are able to tell good from bad. With the truth, the clearer people’s understanding of it, and the more truths they gain, the more they know to thank God and be grateful, and the more they feel sated within their hearts. Yes or no? (Yes.) What do material things bring to people? (Emptiness.) They bring emptiness and depravity. People can’t tell good from bad and they develop more and more desires.

In such an acquisitive society, we have no ability of discerning right and wrong, and have no power to overcome the bondage of evil. Under lust and enticement, we are hauled by Satan, not knowing what the blessing is and what the disaster is, much less knowing the terrible outcome the discontent will bring to us, and as a result, we sank deeper and deeper into the abyss of lust. The reason we have so much discontent and lust that can never be filled is because Satan is using our desires and ambitions to bring us to depravity and darkness, so that we are made a plaything under Satan’s command and can’t find the light. When we have the truth as our life, we come to know that everything of us is in God’s sovereignty and predestination, and that regardless of how much wealth or how great achievements we have in our life, they are all in the control of God. What God doesn’t predestine for us is unattainable, no matter how much effort we pay. Our senseless struggles can do nothing but make us have a wearier and harder life. In fact, God has given us enough blessings. If we understand these truths, we will have discernment of Satan’s fallacies, see through Satan’s schemes and conspiracies, stop receiving its deception and bondage, and have the ability of defending the enticement of Satan. With the guidance of God’s word, when we gradually grow in life, have a knowledge of God’s authority and sovereignty, and see that God never leaves us but loves us by our side, we will be willing to happily obey everything from God and do not excessively pursue to meet our desires. No matter how much God gives us, we will be contented and praise God with a grateful heart.

Just like Job, the righteous man approved by God, he believed that all his possessions came from God’s blessings and God’s sovereignty and they were not gained by his own labor, so he was able to obey God’s sovereignty and arrangement, to give thanks frequently, and to come before God worshiping Him. He didn’t indulge in more of material enjoyment, nor did he feel pain for losing the material blessings. The Bible says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:6–8). For us Christians, we should learn to give thanks and be contented. Only thus can we live in happiness and joy.

In the end, I want to share three phrases in the Bible: “Rejoice ever more. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18). I would that we often pray in our heart and seek God’s will in matters that come upon us. When we know that everything God does is the best and His blessings are enough to us, we will be able to drop our ambitions and desires to obey all environments arranged by God, and maintain a joyful heart to praise God’s blessings, living in content and joy!

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