Have you ever been more in love with the idea of something more than its reality? You probably have. It’s just a different spin on the old familiar “the grass is always greener” theme. You buy that dream item only to suffer from buyer’s remorse and find yourself now dreaming of how wonderful it would be if you didn’t have it.
It is well illustrated by the boat owner’s confession. “The happiest day of my life was when I bought a boat and an even happier day was when I sold it.” I’ve known people like that and I’ve been there myself. One glorious dream I had was to have a backyard swimming pool. After my kids grew up and left home that dream morphed into a nightmare when I finally realized that no one but the birds were using it and it was costing me tons of my time, energy and money to keep it running.
Why is that such a familiar story? An ideal becomes an ordeal and we find ourselves looking for a new deal. The Apostle Paul knew all about the battle for contentment. The chronicle of the unsettling circumstances of his life with its imprisonments, beatings, shipwrecks and survival from all manner of dangers is material for a doctoral thesis on contentment. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28) What better person to give us critical insight into dealing with discontent?
Writing more on contentment than any other New Testament writer, Paul reveals three things that can help us be triumphant when our ideal becomes an ordeal.