The world offers an array of answers for discontentment. Dream big and work harder is one suggestion. Much of our culture looks to soup up our ambition with catchy one-liners or allusions to the perfect life where dreams come true. Another suggestion is to dream smaller and lower your expectations. With lower expectations, you will never be disappointed and will always be content with what you have. Both of these suggestions miss the biblical direction for contentment.
Paul, writing to the Philippians, exhorts them to not be anxious about anything (Phil. 4:6) and gives himself as an example of one who has learned to be content in seasons of plenty and in seasons of need (Phil. 4:11-13). How is he content? Has he learned to desire less and, therefore, be content with less? The answer is no, he is not content with “less.” In truth, Paul’s desires are greater, not lesser. Yet, his desires are not found in his own ambition or efforts for contentment.
Old Puritan pastors called this divine complacency. This is not some eastern practice of ridding ourselves of all desires so that we have no passions or feelings. Rather, it means that you find rest and contentment in God more than any other thing. More than that, nothing in this world can give you rest and contentment except God. Nothing can give you the exhale of relief except the pleasure of God. Jeremiah Burroughs explains divine complacency this way:
Here lies the mystery of Christian contentment, A little in the world will content a Christian for his passage, but all the world, and ten thousand times more, will not content a Christian for his portion.
May we look to the pleasures of God for our contentment. As Paul ends his letter to the Philippians he writes, “And my God will supply every need of yours.” How? By power, ambition, or riches of this world? No. He will supply every need of yours “according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).