Discontent is part of the fabric of our lives. A life centered on the acquisition of “things” is driven by discontent because appealing to our desires is more fun than thinking of our basic needs. Diamonds capture the imagination in a way that chicken soup does not. Having a roof over our heads is not nearly so inspiring as acquiring the home that inhabits our dreams. This is especially true in this most hallowed season in the marketplace.
Soon, the commercial from a luxury car company will tell me that if indeed I was a really loving husband, I would buy my wife a new Lexus and place monstrous bow on the roof. The catalogs and online advertisements have appeared with a frequency that blinds us to all the wonderful things that tells us happiness is available with one small purchase. They imply that life will be just a bit sadder without the newest phone, the latest jewelry, or the new cookware to prepare the feast.
When the meal turns out less than hoped for or the Amazon truck doesn’t make it in time, like Clark Griswold not getting his holiday bonus to pay for the pool he so desires, we will be discontent. This is an unholy discontent, driven by our own wants and hawked by those who covet our credit card numbers.
There is another kind of discontent that arises in this season of waiting called Advent. It is a divine discontent that blossoms from the presence of God in our lives. It is a discontent with the way the world is, knowing that God has no intention of leaving it this way forever. It is a holy discontent that drives us to transcend our material desires and love.
I have to say that the news of four more school children shot dead by another child while we, once again, debate the right to bear arms, leaves me terribly discontent. This is not a product of my politics, or my ideology. It is born of a God who will one day hold us all accountable for accepting the unacceptable.
I have to say that knowing 1.4 billion pounds of food ends up in the garbage each year (an amount that is growing) while men, women, and children starve causes me considerable discontent. Again, it’s not my politics or ideology, but the presence of a Lord who commands over and over that we feed the hungry that drives my discontent. How shall we answer for this?
Divine discontent is not a helpless, throw-up-your-hands deal where we just complain about the world. When we give into unholy discontent and decide to make our wants come to pass (even though they only satisfy for a moment) we get busy. We save, we spend, we work. The same is true of Divine or holy discontent. We can act, we can participate in the changes that need to happen to the extent we can and bring the Kingdom of God a little closer. On top of that, these efforts have eternal meaning and are fueled by divine love.
The bottom line is that in the reign of God, kids don’t get shot nor do they go hungry. God will, without doubt, end this suffering. The question is, are you as grieved by the suffering as God? Will you leave the solutions to God alone, or will you rise up and act?
Tim Olson – Lead Pastor