Disappointment & Contentment
Misplaced Hope – Lesson 9 of the “Overcome” Christian Recovery Study Guide
More. More. More. Looking for things to fulfill us is natural. Some would even say that God created us to consume. And they would be correct. The problem comes when we begin to look to the things of this world to fulfill us, that are incapable. We form false expectations that buckle under the pressure and lead to the feeling known as disappointment; something that failed at fulfilling a hope we so desperately wanted to believe in. Follow along in this lesson of the “Overcome” Christian recovery study guide to learn how to move away from disappointment, and toward contentment.
In the opening verse of Ecclesiastes, Solomon says All is vanity. He is saying everything in this world is futile. He also uses the phrase striving after wind to further elaborate on this maxim. Everything. Wisdom, work, indulgence, wealth… and he goes through 11 chapters of this, and in chapter 12 he sums it up in verse 13:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.Ecclesiastes 12:13
Most disappointments are birthed from focusing on ourselves and what we feel we deserve. We confuse our wants with needs. For many of us this is especially true when it comes to acknowledgement for hard work and efforts. If it is something we have invested in and it doesn’t turn out a certain way, we suddenly lose our sense of purpose. For others it is tied up in misplaced importance in a particular identity or possession. We idolize these things to make us feel whole, to give our lives meaning. The hunt becomes a harsh and impossible task. Tragically, we tend to neglect the gifts God has given us by focusing on what we don’t have.
When these expectations aren’t met, dissension, anger, depression and self-medicating unfortunately become the only thing we have for our efforts. When expectations are only temporarily met, it never brings a lasting feeling of joy or fulfillment and we forget about it once it loses its luster. The beast of time reveals the sad truth that the idols have once again let us down. We nurse our wounds and develop spiritual Alzheimer’s and begin the cycle all over again once we see the next shiny thing, the next conquest, the next adventure.
Addiction for me was knowing I didn’t have what I needed, which was a spiritual relationship with my Creator, but hunting for everything else to fill that void. Alcohol and pills numbed me. But it was something I was never content with. I became Goldilocks; not enough but too much. All of it was reflective of the emotional rollercoaster, up and down. In the biography on Rockefeller, he was quoted saying, in business “Fear the peaks as much as you fear the troughs.” I can’t help but think there is a direct parallel to this in our spiritual walks.
Our scripture reference comes from the Sermon on the Mount, a little after the Beatitudes. And ultimately is a call to make sure you have your priorities correct in life. He isn’t saying “Do this and you’ll get that house in the Bahamas and a Ferrari.” He is saying don’t attempt to find fulfillment in the things of this world. He is saying seek your spiritual relationship with God first. Do not neglect your spiritual development on behalf of these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.Matt 6:33
I understand this verse as do not find security in these things. People, professions, possessions. These things will leave you empty, defeated and imbittered. The worldly search for fulfillment will only lead to disappointment, whether now or on your deathbed. Kids will break your heart, your spouse will take you for granted, your friends will use you, cars will break down, you will lose your job, health problems and the list goes on and on. Where disappointment dwells, contentment disappears.
These things are valid concerns. They are things referred to as what we need to survive. Things that we are provided with but may not be up to the standards that we want them to be. You start to look around and think “I want what this other person has” instead of recognizing what you have been given and asking “Am I being faithful with what I have been entrusted with?”
The “Overcome” Christian Recovery Study Guide
Application – Humble Gratitude
Disappointment serves no other purpose than to distract you with things you don’t have and forget what you do have. You move from disappointment to contentment by being thankful and grateful for what you have, being humble instead of prideful. And the best way I have found to do this is by writing these things down as they come to mind. No matter how little or trivial you may think they are. After you begin this intentional means of recognition, start to ask the question “How would God want me to use this to build His kingdom?”
The above suggestion will help you appreciate what you have been given, but more importantly understand who has given it to you and why. We humans tend to take things for granted, like waking up every morning, a sun rise, a pillow, running water. Even the talents and gifts we have been given get neglected and suffer. It is all too easy to brush this awareness under the rug and continue the primal search that decays us from the inside out; seeking other things, in lieu of that which really matters.
A Final Note on Seeking
Much has been said on the part of the commitment of individuals seeking recovery from substance abuse. Many highly educated professionals, well intentioned, state that an individual must want and seek recovery. Recovery becomes one of these things. While to some extent I believe this, it is however, foundationally flawed. True, if the individual is indeed committed to recovery, there is a slight chance they may in fact obtain recovery. Unfortunately, that is not the inherent obstacle. The flaw in this logic resides in a primary misunderstanding of the issue and progression of recovery. One that does not take seriously enough the question of when, not if, struggles come and how will they be handled. To which I offer the following alteration to the statement:
You may find recovery if you are seeking for it. You will find recovery and so much more if you would but seek Jesus instead.
The “Overcome” Christian Recovery Study Guide is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.
Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire Overcome Christian Recovery Study Guide series.
We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC. Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship. Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.
For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Joshua Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book