by Alexa Hess
There it is again. That feeling of discontentment, that ache of desire. I’m not sure what it is that I want, but I try to think of something to fill that hole in my heart. Maybe if I had my favorite treat from the bakery down the road, I would feel better. Or maybe I need to follow through with the ad on my computer and buy that pretty dress. Contentment is a struggle for me, and I find that one of the major sources of my discontentment is relying too much on simple joys for happiness. When that ache in my heart arises, I reach for or desire that “one thing” to lift my spirits.
What are some of your simple joys? Simple joys are not in and of themselves bad things. God, in His kindness, has given us gifts to enjoy. Time spent with friends, a delicious cup of coffee, and a good book are all gifts of God’s grace. But simple joys are not meant to be our ultimate joy. Our ultimate joy should be God and God alone. Yet, we can find that we often place our ultimate joy in simple pleasures rather than in the Lord.
How do you know if a simple joy has become an ultimate joy? When a simple joy has moved from something, you enjoy to something necessary for your happiness. Another sign is feeling irritable or bitter when you cannot have or experience a certain joy. It is good to be aware of the simple joys in our lives that have shifted to ultimate joy. If we are not actively seeking to place our joy in the Lord, we will rely too heavily on worldly pleasures. And because worldly pleasures cannot give us lasting satisfaction, we can find ourselves experiencing daily bitterness and frustration when we cling tightly to simple joys.
In Psalm 16:11, King David writes, “You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures.” In these verses, David reveals our one true source of ultimate joy—God. He teaches us that abundant joy is found in the Lord, not the things of this world. Instead of the temporary pleasures we often grasp, eternal pleasures are at God’s right hand.
These verses remind us that we often settle for what is fleeting and empty rather than eternal and abundant. We disregard the presence of the Lord, where joy is found, to pursue quick fixes for our discontent. But why settle for fleeting joy when we can rest in the abundant joy God provides? Why search for temporary pleasures when God had already given us eternal pleasures through Christ?
In Christ, we receive salvation, eternal life, an inheritance, and the gift of God’s presence. And even though we will experience the fullness of God’s presence when we dwell with Him one day, we can rest in His presence in the present. When we choose to rest in God’s presence, we will delight in Him over the things of this world. The ache of discontentment is satisfied by the act of delight. Delighting in the Lord and His presence keeps us from placing too much value on the simple joys in our lives. As we rest and delight in God’s presence, we will appreciate the gifts He gives without needing them for our satisfaction.
Another way we can keep simple joys from being our ultimate joy is by allowing our simple joys to lead us to the Lord. When we experience time with friends, a delicious cup of coffee, or a good book, we can direct our attention to the Lord. We can allow the feelings of joy and happiness we experience to remind us how God is the one who has supplied us with these good gifts. And in the moments when simple joys are unmet, we can allow our feelings of disappointment to remind us how God is all we need.
We do not need simple joys to be content, for contentment is found in the Lord. May this truth cause us to draw near to God and His Word. When discontentment fills our hearts, we can rest in God’s abundant joy.