Nagging discontent is hard to pin down. Most of the time, it's the vague feeling that something is wrong, but you can't understand what.
What's odd about this sensation is that it can hit any time. I often experienced it when everything in my life seemed to be going right. I dismissed it as some kind of guilt, the remorse that I didn't deserve all the good things that were happening to me. Sometimes I felt anxiety that I would mess things up.
But there were other times when my life seemed to be one disaster after another, and a strange hunch told me that even if all my current problems went away, there would still be something wrong.
Have you ever felt like that? I'd be surprised if you haven't, because this feeling is so universal only the most clueless humans on the planet don't recognize it. And that's the problem. They keep chasing one thing after another believing they can fix it when they really can't.
Let's explore the fix, the true fix.
When I was a young man, I had the fire. I was ambitious and believed I could accomplish anything I put my mind to. Twenty years later reality had knocked that notion out of my head. A big part of the problem was that I was not willing to do whatever it took to succeed.
I'm not saying you can't make a lot of money or achieve impressive things without being dishonest or a bully, but I observed that too many people who rose to the top were, indeed, jerks. They stepped on plenty of faces along the way, all the while smiling and glad-handing like they were Mr. or Ms. Congeniality. Politicians are experts at it. Phoniness seems to run in their bloodstream.
Don't get me wrong. Ambition gets most of the things done in the world, but it can also leave a trail of broken bodies and broken hearts in its wake.
Ambition is the most popular way of proving you are worthwhile.
Read a long obituary and you're sure to think, "Wow, that person accomplished a lot in their lifetime. They were really somebody."
Mansions, luxury cars, exotic vacations, designer clothes—they're today's measures of success. They impress people. If you have a lot of money and travel in that rare stratosphere, you've finally made it.
But listen to what the wisest man who ever lived said about that:
"You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked." (Jesus of Nazareth, Revelation 3:17, NIV)
Have you ever wondered what drives the runaway sales of drugs and alcohol? Much of it is the feeling that a person's life is miserable. Substance abuse is a quick, easy way to try to silence nagging discontent. Beer and liquor commercials exclusively show happy people. The implication is clear: Drink our product and you'll feel better.
Trying to solve loneliness or low self-esteem with alcohol or drugs is like trying to put out a fire by throwing gasoline on it. Self-medicating works, until it doesn't. Then it becomes self-poisoning.
Any risky behavior, from overeating to promiscuity to binge shopping, is a disguised way to tamp down nagging discontent without honestly addressing the problem.
We have made a thriving economy based on escape. Advertisers tell us we deserve it. By golly, I'm entitled, we think. I work hard and I don't get enough fun out of life. What's the harm in doing something that will make me forget my troubles for a while?
We do need leisure. We need to play and relax from our stressful work environments. But we are lying to ourselves if we believe escape will get rid of that deep-seated, intractable suspicion that something is seriously wrong.
If nothing we buy or achieve can stop that nagging discontent, then what is causing it?
French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662) expressed it perfectly:
"There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus."
Think about it. If God created our souls, why wouldn't he place a longing inside each of us for himself? He desires us, not our works or offerings. Trying to fill that God shaped vacuum with anything else is like pounding a square peg in a round hole. It just won't work.
We Christians should know better, but caught up in the temptations of the world, we have come to believe we can fix nagging discontent ourselves. That is one of the great sins of life: Trying to find perfect happiness without God. Atheists will always know nagging discontent.
Once you accept the truth that only God can complete you, it puts everything in a new perspective. Look what happened to the Apostle Paul:
Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, (Acts 9:18, NIV)
This was literal blindness for Paul. Real scales fell from his eyes and he saw clearly for the first time in his life. He realized what he wanted. For us, it's a spiritual blindness. We finally see what we have been grasping for, and it's Jesus.
If you're a Christian, you already have salvation. Do you need to do anything to make this other truth about Jesus work in your life?
“If you hold to my teaching (Jesus said) you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32, NIV)
The freedom Jesus spoke of is freedom from chasing false hope, the false hope of materialism and the praise of men. It's liberating to finally understand that power, prestige, prominence and possessions can never provide that ultimate fulfillment you want so much.
That makes it fine to pursue your dreams, all the while knowing only Christ can end that nagging discontent. When you have him, he can satisfy the deepest desires of your heart.
Wouldn't it be great to get out of bed in the morning enthusiastic about your day, just knowing something good is going to happen?
Hope for Hurting Singles can put you on that path. When you align your life with God's will for you, a real change in attitude will happen.
This is not the false hope of prosperity preachers. It's the real thing, based on Jack Zavada's 45 years in the single life. By trial and error, he learned what works and what doesn't. You will not find a more realistic, down-to-earth book on the single life than this. These proven principles, consistent with biblical teachings, will help you overcome the common problems of
Hope for Hurting Singles is available in paperback from amazon.com for only $10.99. Order your copy today!