"If only I had an iPhone. Then I'd be satisfied."
As silly as that sounds, I vividly remember 15-year-old Alexa having that mindset. I was sitting on my bed, looking at my outdated, plastic phone feeling dissatisfied and completely convinced that once I had a new phone all my worries would be gone. Looking back now, I laugh. Not because of how badly I wanted a new phone, but how completely untrue my prediction was. Once I got the iPhone, it was only a matter of time before I would have new desires for something else; wanting something bigger, and something better.
Maybe for you, the desire wasn't a new phone. But at a time in all of our lives, it isn't uncommon to find ourselves thinking, "if only I had (x), then I would be content". Whether it was a boyfriend or girlfriend, a new car, a different job, or a new house.
However, just because we find ourselves thinking like this from time to time, does not make it right. Let me remind you that dissatisfaction, the constant crave for "more", is a desire formed from the mutated DNA of the fall. We all have it, we all struggle with it, and we all desire something more than what this world has to offer- whether we have come to grips with that reality or not. Throughout the Bible, we are given examples of people feeling like this- putting a focus on the things of this world, and not of the things above.
One person in particular we notice is David's son Solomon. After Solomon received a "wise and discerning mind" from The Lord (1 Kings 3:7-12), his reputation of being wise became well known to all the kings of the world. Solomon had access to anything he wanted with his wealth. Think about it- this man drastically surpasses us in terms of wealth, education, and power. If he wants something, he gets it- no questions asked. The details that are given in 1 Kings 4:22-23 show that Solomon was throwing parties for 15-20 thousand people. Imagine- the finest food, most expensive wine, incredible entertainment- the best of the best. What more is there? People today still chase after this lifestyle and what it has to offer. Unfortunately, what it offers isn't substantial at all. And Solomon, being the wise king that he is, begins to quickly realize that.
With the partying lifestyle not being fulfilling, Solomon tries to "make something out of his life". Ecclesiastes 2:4-6 says that he built houses and parks, planted vineyards for himself, made pools from which he used to water a huge forest of trees he made (not a mere garden- a FOREST).
Even with all of this available, we see in Ecclesiastes him reflecting on squandering God's blessings on his own personal pleasure rather than God's glory, and going so far as to warn subsequent generations to not make the same tragic mistake.
"I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after the wind" -Ecclesiastes 1:14
This is coming from a King who was richer than we could even dare to dream. He had everything- and what does he say about it? It's vanity. All of it is vanity. The luxury palace he built, the insane parties he threw- all of it is just chasing after the wind.
The Hebrew word translated "vanity" expresses the futile attempt to be satisfied apart from God. All earthly goals and ambitions when pursued as ends in themselves produce only emptiness, and like the wind, much of what is desirable in life cannot be held in a hand. Because of Solomon's experience in the Bible, it is hard for us to make claims such as, "I bet if I was rich I wouldn't feel this way", or "If I only had (x), I would be satisfied"- because that mindset and way of living is already exposed as being faulty through Solomon's experience.
So where do we find the true contentment every human being longs for?
In Philippians, Paul writes to the people of Philippi while being in prison. Again. With the threat of his life on the line, we see a peculiar optimism within his letter. Rather than speak about his sufferings, Paul writes with joy about how the Gospel has spread throughout the entire imperial guard, and how others are encouraged to boldly proclaim the Gospel all the more (Phil. 1:14). Paul regards his life as a sacrifice in order to bring others to Christ. He has lost everything, and yet counts nothing as lost. The core of Paul's desires isn't focused on material items or fleeting feelings, but rather the unshakeable truth and majesty of The Lord. Paul is stressing that true contentment is not in any way related to circumstances. True contentment is in centering your reality on seeking the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:32-33).
"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
True contentment is being satisfied with the Giver, not the gifts. Because Paul found his worth in Jesus, and not in materialistic things or people around him, he was able to constantly turn to a divine sufficiency for his strength. The accumulation of satisfactions other than Jesus will never satisfy. We see this growing desire in Solomon, and we have felt it vividly in our own lives at one point when we seek things of this world and not the Creator of the world.
"Restless is our heart until it comes to rest in thee" -Augustine
We aren't born with the ability to be fully content. Contentment in its truest form is a discipline. We are sinners living in a fallen world and are constantly being fed lies of what the world calls a "true" or "fulfilling life". Putting our satisfaction in Christ must be remembered, practiced, and put into effect through any given circumstance we come into contact with. Until then, we are feeding a never ending hole, trading temporary happiness for eternal joy and contentment in Christ. He is enough.