Discontent is a feeling of not being satisfied or a desire for something else (Webster’s Dictionary). It seems worth exploring ‘Holy Discontent’ – discontent from a Biblical perspective.
Those centered on pleasing Jesus would likely say Holy Discontent is well expressed in Scripture. Holy Discontent falls into several categories. First, the deterioration of the earth really bugs everybody, but especially those who know why it happened and God’s solution:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:18-21 NIV)
The rest of this passage in Romans explains another category: we are ready to get out of this mess and get a new body – the one that will never be injured, get sick, get old or die (can you tell I’m tired of going to physical therapy?).
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:22-25 NIV)
From the very beginning, disobedient humans profoundly irritated God, and since those who belong to Jesus have His heart, it gets under our skin as well:
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” (Genesis 5:5-7)
As we read on in Genesis, we know God left a few who listened to Him and left some animals as well. He is long suffering with those who incline their hearts to Him.
Jumping to the New Testament, another aspect of Holy Discontent is voiced. Though the Apostle Paul expresses his desire to stick around and build Christ’s kingdom, he also expresses discontent with remaining on this damaged planet:
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. (Philippians 1:21-24 NIV)
That’s not everything that stirred up Holy Discontent in Paul. He expressed frustration with continued childish immaturity of those he had guided into the Kingdom:
Oh, my dear children, I feel the pangs of childbirth all over again till Christ be formed within you, and how I long to be with you now! Perhaps I could then alter my tone to suit your mood. As it is, I honestly don’t know how to deal with you. (Galatians 4:19-20 Phillips)
What is an antidote for this Holy Discontent? Here’s what those who love the God of the Bible have relied upon for centuries:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. (Hebrews 11:1-2 NIV)
We can also refresh our outlook by enjoying remnants of beauty that emanate from a now fractured world created by our magnificent God. When you watch this scene from the movie “Shawshank Redemption”, marvel how the uncanny power of a beautiful operatic performance even loosens the hardness of prisoners enveloped by malfunctioning humanity. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azWVPWGUE1M