Devotional Thoughts

Struggling with Contentment?

This post by Abby Huffstutler comes from Gospel Meditations on the Psalms (Day 10: “Don’t Fret”).

“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way.”  (Psalm 37:7)

I know I’m not the only Christian who looks at prosperous unbelievers and feels jealousy. It frustrates us that wicked people seem to experience all the good stuff in this life, and it frustrated David, too. The opening of Psalm 37—“Don’t envy or fret about evildoers”—resonates with us. We look at those who oppose Christianity but seem to have happy, beautiful lives, and we ask God, “How is this fair?” Here’s what He says to us.

The “success” of the wicked is only temporary.

Those who reject God may have their heyday now, but it’s short-lived pleasure. Hear the insight of Robert Leighton, a pastor in the 1600s: “[God] often gives more of the world to those that shall have no more hereafter.”

Sure, unbelievers may be partying their way through life with a lot of money and fame—but they’ll soon be gone (vv. 10, 36), withered like cut grass (vv. 2, 20). Their lives will “go up in smoke” (v. 20 NIV, James 4:14). God details their end, and it’s horrible: The wicked will be “destroyed,” “broken,” and “cut off ” (vv. 15, 17, 34, 38).

True success is found in God.

Psalm 37 gives us God’s solutions for discontentment.

1. Don’t fret. God tells us three times (vv. 1, 7, 8) to stop agonizing about other people. He knows we’re tempted to be upset, but He knows that feeding our frustration can turn us toward evil (v. 8). So he says, “Stop being angry about them.”

2. Live for God, not thingsIt’s easy to scroll through social media, stare at the wealth of this world, and let jealousy flourish. But God gives us alternatives to anger and envy: “Trust Me. Do good things for other people. Cultivate faithfulness to Christ—at your job, with your church, among your family. Find joy in Me—just Me! Roll all your concerns onto Me. And did I already mention it? Trust Me” (vv. 3–5).

3. Be still and waitIt’s hard to sit quietly and not crave the life of your favorite celebrity. Modern life—i.e., instant everything—doesn’t develop contentment or patience. But three times (vv. 7, 9, 34) God says, “Just wait and see what happens with the wicked. Just wait and see what great things I will give you.” Psalm 37 paints a tragic end for evildoers, but we who trust in Christ’s death have the glorious hope of the gospel. Just wait.

4. Remember God’s promises. This psalm assures us that if we follow the Lord, we will shine (v. 6), we will receive an inheritance from God (vv. 9, 11, 22, 29, 34), and we will experience peace, stability, and true prosperity (vv. 11, 23, 31, 34). We’re tempted by the lifestyle of the wicked, but God guarantees a truly good, eternal life for those who believe in His Son for salvation (Romans 8:29–30, 32; 1 Peter 1:3–5).

5. Look at the pastAll of Christian history verifies God’s care for His children. Christians don’t have to beg: Our Father knows our circumstances and meets our needs (vv. 25–26). He loved us so much that He gave us His Son (John 3:16)!

6. Hold on to truthPsalm 37 doesn’t deny that bad people prosper. But it trumps that truth with better truths—that God loves justice (v. 28), that He won’t ever leave us (v. 28), that we have His Word in our hearts to protect us (v. 31), and that He will help and deliver us (v. 40)! Recalling these realities helps us be content.

Martin Luther summarizes our struggle well: “And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God has willed his truth to triumph through us” (“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”). Do not fret. Take refuge in the Lord.

Let the gospel teach you to wait on God when you struggle with contentment in this life.

Explore the whole book!

The Psalms are balms. They have brought help and healing to God’s people for over 3,000 years. Scripture’s 150 inspired songs give us words to pray during times of joy and sorrow, triumph and loss, worship and conviction. They are so vibrant, so beautiful, so real. This 31-day devotional presents short studies of thirty psalms, exploring their connection to the gospel and their direct application to our everyday experiences—our ups and downs, our highs and lows.

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash