The Art of Divine Contentment

It’s Monday morning and, honestly, I don’t have a whole lot to say. So, I was sifting through a pile of books that I read in the past couple years and was drawn again to another book by my old, dead friend and counselor of the heart, Thomas Watson (some of my best counselors have been dead for hundreds of years]. This English Puritan, known for his use of vivid word pictures to penetrate the souls of his readers, has again been used of the Spirit to convict, encourage, and strengthen my soul in my never-ending quest for a more God-centered life. Here are a few gems highlighted in my copy. Let his words counsel you too.

“Discontentment is to the soul as a disease is to the body: it puts it out of temper and much hinders its regular and sublime motions heavenward….[It] is not to be excused because it is natural, but resisted because it is sinful. That which should put us out of love with this sullen distemper is the contemplation of the beautiful queen of contentment.” [v]

“Here is the difference between a holy complaint and a discontented complaint. In the one we complain to God; in the other we complain of God.” [17]

“Murmuring is no better than mutiny in the heart; it is a rising up against God. When the sea is rough and unquiet, it casts forth nothing but foam. When the heart is discontented, it casts forth the foam of anger, impatience, and sometimes little better than blasphemy. Murmuring is nothing else but scum which boils off from a discontented heart.” [18]

“Contentment is a divine thing; it becomes ours, not by acquisition, but by infusion. It is a slip taken off from the tree of life and planted by the Spirit of God in the soul. It is a fruit that grows not in the garden of philosophy, but is of a heavenly birth.” [19]

“God’s Providence, which is nothing but the carrying out of His decrees, should be a counterpoison against discontent. God has set us in station, and has done it in wisdom.” [23]

“Discontent makes a man so that he does not enjoy what he possesses. A drop or two of vinegar will sour a whole glass of wine. Let a man have the affluence and confluence of worldly comforts, yet a drop or two of discontent will embitter and poison all.” [26]

“Why do you complain of your troubles? It is not trouble that troubles, but discontent. It is not the water outside the ship, but the water that gets within the leak which drowns it. It is not outward affliction that can make the life of a Christian sad; a contented mind would sail above these waters. But when there is a leak of discontent open and trouble gets into the heart, then it is disquieted and sinks. Do, therefore, as the mariners: pump the water out and stop this spiritual leak in your soul, and no trouble can hurt you.” [27]

“If the thing we desire is good for us, we shall have it. If it is not good, then not having it is good for us.” [60]

“Murmuring is quarreling with God, and protesting bitterly against Him. ‘They spake against God’ (Numbers 21:5). The murmurer says that God has not dealt well with him, and that he has deserved better from Him. The murmurer charges God with folly….Our murmuring is the devil’s music.” [65]

“Satan takes great advantage of our discontent. He loves to fish in these waters. Discontent both eclipses reason and weakens faith. It is Satan’s usual policy to break over the hedge where it is weakest. Discontent makes a breach in the soul, and usually at this breach the devil enters in by a temptation and storms the soul. How easily can the devil, by his logic, dispute a discontented Christian into sin!” [66]

“Thus contentment, as a honeycomb, drops sweetness into every condition. But discontent is a leaven that sours every comfort. It puts aloes and wormwood upon the breast of the creature. It lessens every mercy and triples every cross, but the contented spirit sucks sweetness from every flower of Providence. It can make something sweet out of poison.” [69]

“God has His end. God’s end in all His cross providences is to bring the heart to submit and be content. And, indeed, this pleases God much. He loves to see His children satisfied with that portion He carves and allots them. It contents Him to see us content.” [72]

“Discontent is the devil’s delight…Repentance is the joy of the angels, and discontent is the joy of the devils. As the devil dances at discord, so he sings at discontent.” [72-73]

“God makes our adversity our university.” [74]

“Discontent spins out our troubles longer. A Christian is discontented because he is in want, and therefore he is in want because he is discontented. He murmurs because he is afflicted, and therefore he is afflicted because he murmurs. Discontent delays and sets aside our mercies.” [87]

“He who is contented with his condition will not run into sin to rid himself of trouble….If God does not open the door by His providence, they will break it open and wind themselves out of affliction by sin, bringing their souls into trouble by bringing their estates out of trouble. This is far from holy contentment; this is unbelief breaking out into rebellion.” [110]

“Faith sucks the honey of contentment out of the hive of the promise.” [113]

Get this Puritan treasure from Reformation Heritage Books in audio book.

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