Why Am I So Unhappy?

July 13, 2011 at 8:07 am (Faith, My ramblings)

I have been reading the book The Greener Grass Conspiracy and the title of the first chapter is Why am I so unhappy? The author talks about playing the “what if” game and the way to play it is to think about what would make you happy. Really, freakishly happy. We play it by inserting “what if” in front of things like, “if only I could get married then I would be happy” or “if only I could get that job promotion, then I would be satisfied” or “if only my budget wasn’t so tight, then I’d have peace, joy, contentment, and some sleep at night.” He goes on to say once you’ve identified your “if only” dream, invest all your hopes in that dream and spend hours thinking and praying about it. Put all your hopes for life and happiness into that dream. Imagine how happy you’ll finally be when that dream is fulfilled. Most people are good at playing the “what if” game. The only problem is, you never win.

If you struggle with discontentment, ask yourself this question, “am I always waiting for that next event/person/place/thing to happen so that it will fulfill the deepest desires of my heart?” If so, you will never, ever be content. Why? The Bible explains it best in Mark 7:21-23, “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”  It’s so easy to blame everything else for our circumstances but ultimately, it’s our fault. The raging, covetous, discontented desires come from within and they won’t be satisfied when circumstances change.

The author then goes on to talk about our constant desire to make an image for God. Our hearts are idol factories and we are constantly creating new idols to worship. Not golden calves, mind you, but idols nonetheless. Ultimately, the problem is stated best in James 4:1-3, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”  When we don’t get what we want, we throw a temper tantrum and if we’re not careful, we can become angry with God and discontent with life. We grumble and complain and happiness appears to be out of reach. So what’s the hope if we are discontent? What do we do? Paul writes in Philippians 4:11-12, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” I think if the Apostle Paul can be content in whatever circumstances (beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, starvation, assassination attempts, snakebites, riots, etc) then we can also learn to be content.

This post is not meant to bring condemnation but conviction. As I am reading this book, my eyes are being opened to my own sin. Is is painful? Yes. Is it necessary? Yes. Does it bring me closer to the Lord? Absolutely. And ultimately, that’s what I want. I want to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and I am grateful for the Bible and for godly people who write godly books to help me along the way.

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