For many, satisfaction is a temporary condition. A full stomach? Then we get hungry again. Shelter? It may suit you until you see your neighbor expanding, or your brother-in-law’s ultra-comfortable mobility (an RV). Health? For those who exercise regularly, feeling good until co-workers or friends become competitors. or perhaps win trophies as marathoners. For the employed, particularly in 2022, if we have gained a skill (i.e., nurse, welder, carpenter or airline pilot), we can choose where to work. However, enjoyment of the income may dwindle when the demands of the work, or debt of accumulated things they rarely use exceed the benefits.
Of course, were we hunter-gatherers, food and shelter would only be what we obtained by our labor. Satisfaction would equate to our ability to provide a family’s necessities. It would depend on each individual’s skill and fitness. Until the introduction of “modern conveniences”, most of us might still be satisfied with the bare essentials, as we would not have anyone else to compare our lives. As members of a Twenty-First Century community, satisfaction is far more short-lived. Whether it is the dependence on Government to provide clean water and public safety, or a global corporation to provide the goods and services we each need, all of us are far removed from that hunter-gatherer.
The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment.Doug Larson, (d. 2017) journalist, via brainyquote.com
Sometimes, our circumstances may not change, but our attitude (and gratitude) does. And instead of being something that appears and disappears, satisfaction tends to grow toward a state of contentment. While I do not think I have “arrived” at Contentment, I have witnessed some who are farther along in the journey. My late maternal aunt had Parkinson’s disease for nearly ten years. She was tirelessly positive and encouraging to others, particularly with a childhood friend, and looked after – as well as looked after by – her neighbors of forty years in New York City. She never indicated her condition was anything less than good days and not-so-good days. A friend and former co-worker who passed away last year from health issues (unrelated to COVID) had a remarkable sense of humor, and often self-deprecating, including when a medical issue resulted in the loss of a foot- making him more “authentic” as a “pirate”. An elder member of our small church community models contentment – as did her late husband. Both her example, and the legacy of her husband continue to teach us to seek God’s peace more deeply. For us, contentment begins with Salvation through Jesus and advocacy of God’s Spirit to help us along. Where satisfaction is still more a physical and emotional condition, contentment is a quality of a spiritually centered life. I know that many seek contentment in many forms, but for my spouse and me, we are empowered, sustained and enabled through Faith.
But godliness with contentment is great gain.1 Timothy 6: 6 (NIV)