Joel Osteen — Living Content
I want to talk to you today about living content. It's good to have dreams and goals. We should be stretching our faith, believing for something bigger, but here's the key, while we're waiting for things to change, waiting for promises to come to pass, we shouldn't be discontent where we are. Maybe you're believing to have a baby, believing for a new house, believing to get married, that's great but don't go the next five years discontent being single, discontent with the house you have, discontent not having a child.
Learn to enjoy the season that you're in. Being unhappy, frustrated, wondering if it's ever going to change is not going to make it happen any sooner. When we're discontent, we're dishonoring God. We're so focused on what we want, we're taking for granted what we have. The right attitude is, "God, I'm believing for a new house but in the meantime, I'm happy with the house I have. I'm believing to get married, but in the meantime, I'm content being single. Believing for a better job, but I'm happy with the job I have right now".
The apostle Paul said, "I have learned how to be content whether I'm abased or abounding, whether I have plenty or whether I'm in need". Notice, he had to learn to be content. Doesn't happen automatically, it's a choice we have to make, and being content doesn't mean that we don't want change, we give up on our dreams, we settle where we are. No, it means we're not fighting everything. We're not frustrated, we're trusting God's timing. We know he's working behind the scenes and at the right time, he'll get us to where we're supposed to be.
Now, I found some situations will not change until we change. As long as we're frustrated, stressed out, thinking, "Why is it taking so long? Why am I still dealing with this problem? Why is my husband still aggravating me"? No, if God has us there, we must need it. He's going to use it to do a work in us. When we're content, we're growing, we're developing character, our faith is being strengthened. You don't grow in the good times when everything's going your way, you grow when there's pressure. You feel like being sour, but you choose to be happy. You could easily complain but you say, "Lord, thank you for another great day".
All your dreams haven't come to pass but you choose to enjoy the season that you're in, that's passing the test, that's what allows God to go to work. Instead of trying to change the situation, let it change you. There's something wrong if we're always discontented. "I don't like my job, tired of this small apartment. These kids get on my nerves. When is my business ever going to grow"? That's going to keep you where you are, and God's plan for our life is not to just make us comfortable, but to grow us up, to mature us so he can release more of his favor. You may not like where you are but you wouldn't be there unless God has a purpose for it. Make sure you pass the test.
This is what David did, he spent years in the lonely shepherd's fields taking care of his father's sheep and what's interesting is he had already been chosen to be the next king of Israel. The prophet Samuel had already anointed him. David could have thought, "God, this isn't right. I've got big dreams. You promised me great things. What am I doing stuck out here with a bunch of sheep"? No, David understood this principle, he didn't live stressed, frustrated. He bloomed where he was planted. He knew God was in control so he just kept being his best, going to work with a good attitude, grateful for where he was.
Because he was content in the shepherd's fields, he made it to the throne, to the palace. He passed that test. But if you're not content in the season you're in while you're waiting for things to change, then even if you do somehow make it to your throne, so to speak, your dreams do come to pass, you're still not going to be satisfied. You may be happy for a little while, but here's the problem, discontentment will follow you everywhere you go.
A few years ago, I came home one evening and I heard this high-pitched sound in the house like a tone you hear from a television broadcast. I could just faintly hear it and I thought maybe a smoke detector battery was low or an alarm was going off upstairs, so I started going around everywhere trying to figure out where it was but it seemed like everywhere I went, it sounded exactly the same. I couldn't get any closer to it. It was very puzzling. I went upstairs and checked rooms, and drawers, checked the pantry.
Finally, I went up in the attic, I thought maybe a hot water heater or an air conditioner had a part that was going bad. I got way up in the attic and it still sounded exactly the same. After about 20 minutes, I went down to my room to change clothes. I took off my cell phone from my belt where it was clipped and it put it on my counter, when I did, I could tell the tone was coming from my cell phone. That's why it sounded the same everywhere I went. It was clipped to me. I couldn't get away from it.
That's the way it is with discontentment. It follows us around. God blesses us with a promotion, we're happy for a little while, then the discontentment comes. We don't want to work so hard. We don't want the responsibility. It's not our circumstances, it's the spirit of discontentment, seeing the wrong, complaining what we don't like, never having enough. That's why Paul said, "I've learned how to be content".
You gotta train your mind to see the good, to be grateful for what you have. Life will go so much better if you will be content in each season, content when you have a lot and content when you don't have a lot, content whether your children are in diapers or whether they're in college. Whether you're in maintenance or management, you have the grace you need to enjoy each season. If your dreams are not coming to pass, that's a test. Will you do like David and bloom where you're planted? Will you choose to enjoy that season and not just endure it thinking, "God, when is this ever going to change? I've been praying for two years". No, maybe it's going to change when you change. You've gotta be satisfied with where God has you right now.
Again, it doesn't mean you settle there, never expect anything good. It means you don't live frustrated, always wanting something more. "God, I need more money, then I'll be happy. I need a better job, need a bigger house, need to lose 20 pounds. I need my kids to make better grades, then I'll enjoy life". If you get all that corrected, if you accomplish your wish list, something else will come up to make you discontented. You gotta put your foot down and say, "That's it. Everything may not be perfect in my life, all my dreams may not have come to pass yet, but I'm not living frustrated, stressed out. I'm going to bloom right where I'm planted".
In other words, I'm content whether I'm driving a 20-year-old Volkswagen or a brand-new Mercedes-Benz. I'm content whether I'm living in a small apartment or a beautiful dream house. I'm content whether my business is booming or whether it's a little slow". You cannot let your contentment be based on what you have or don't have, on who likes you or who doesn't like you. Learn to be content in every season, content when God blesses you with a lot and content when you have a little, content when the dreams are coming to pass and content while you're waiting, content in the shepherd's fields and content in the palace.
The scripture says, "Godliness with contentment is great gain". Life is very freeing when you can say, "I'm content with who God made me to be. I'm content with my personality, content with my looks, content with my gifts. I'm content with where I am in life, my position, my career, my relationships, my house". This is the reason many people are unhappy, they're always wishing for something different. Some single people are not going to be content until they get married. No, you need to enjoy being single because when you get married, you'll enjoy it more. I'm smarter than I look. There are married people that wish they weren't married, wish they were married to somebody else.
White people sit in tanning booths trying to get darker. Dark people put cream on their skin trying to get lighter. Ladies with curly hair go to the salon to get it straightened. People with straight hair go the salon to get it permed. People with no hair go to the salon to buy some hair. But really, there's nothing wrong with improving, being your best, showing your style, but you shouldn't always be wishing you were something different. Be content with who God made you to be. It's a tragedy to go through life always dissatisfied, wishing you had more, wanting to look like somebody else, waiting to be happy. I'm asking you to be content right where you are.
Think about Mary, the mother of Christ. When she was pregnant with Jesus, she had to ride a donkey to Bethlehem. Now, I've lived with a pregnant woman twice, the same one. If I would have suggested Victoria getting on a donkey at nine months pregnant, I probably wouldn't be here today. Mary could have complained, "Joseph, why don't you get me something smoother? This is hard". When she got to Bethlehem, "Joseph, why didn't you make us a hotel reservation? Why didn't you get me a hospital room? You knew I was going to have this baby, been all over the news". When the baby was born, "Joseph, why didn't you buy the baby a new outfit? I've gotta wrap my beautiful baby in swaddling clothes," that was strips of cloth.
Mary didn't have designer jeans, fancy purse, a latte from Starbucks, but she never complained. She never found fault with Joseph. She didn't say, "God, if I'm going to have this baby for you, at least you could make it more comfortable on me". No, she was content in the season she was in, content when the angel said, "You've been highly favored," and content riding a donkey pregnant, content giving birth in a barn with a bunch of animals and content when the wise men said, "Your son is the Messiah". It takes a mature person to be content on the mountaintop and content in the valley.
A couple of years after Victoria and I were married, we found this piece of property that we really liked. It was close into the city, in a nice neighborhood, but it had a very old, rundown house on it that had major foundation problems. Most people would have torn it done but we decided to fix it up and live in it. The floors in the den were so slanted that I had to put little blocks of wood under the front legs of the couch so it would match up with the back legs. Most of the interior doors would not close properly. It didn't bother us, we were happy.
My mother would come over, "Joel, how do you live in this house with these crooked floors"? God, gives you the grace for each season. Today, we have a nice house with even floors, but I don't believe we would be where we are if we had not been content in that older home. It would have easy to complain, "This is a piece of junk. God, we wanted something new. When is it ever going to change"? No, pass the test. Whether you're abased or abounding, whether you're in your dream house or a crooked floor house, make the decision, "I'm going to be content. I'm going to enjoy my life. I'm going to be grateful for what God's given me. I'm going to be the best I can be right where I am".
The apostle Paul who said, "I've learned how to be content," wrote much of the new testament from a prison cell. When you've made up your mind to be content, prisons can't stop you, crooked floors can't stop you, donkeys can't stop you, lonely shepherd's fields can't stop you. God will get you to where you're supposed to be.
A gentleman recently was telling me about all of his problems and everything that was wrong in his life and went on and on, this long story. He ended by saying, "Joel, I just don't like my life". Here's the problem, it's the only life you have. You can't trade it in. You can't become someone else. You may have a thousand reasons to live unhappy, but you've gotta make this choice that you're going to be content. If you're sour, "When is it ever going to change"? You'll get stuck. God does not promote discontentment. Shake it off and focus on what's right in your life. Focus on what you do have.
Most of us, when we woke up this morning, we could see the sunlight. Our eyes worked. Most of you could hear the birds singing. You had a roof over your head. You have opportunity, people to love in your life. There's a lot right in your life, don't take it for granted. Don't get so focused on the crooked floors, the donkeys, the struggles that you miss the gift of this day. See, every season is not springtime with the flowers beautiful, blooming, nice sunshine, cool weather. That's a great season but you're not going to grow if you stay in harvest. There's gotta be planting seasons, watering seasons, maintaining seasons where you're pulling the weeds, tilling the soil. Those are important seasons.
Without going through that process, then you're not going to come into a new season of harvest. Instead of being frustrated by the difficulties, have a new perspective. That season is getting you prepared for promotion. It may look like you're stuck, you don't see anything happening, but God is at work and at the right time, the season will change. Winter always gives way to spring. It takes a mature person to be content, not only in the harvest season, but content in planning season, content in the watering season, content in the pulling up the weeds season.
You may be in one of those difficult seasons right now, raising a small child or taking care of an elderly loved one, perhaps dealing with an illness. You feel like you're riding that donkey. It's easy to think, "As soon as I get through this tough time, then I'll get my joy back. Soon as my kids get out of diapers, soon as I make it through the busy season at work, as soon as I lose this 20 pounds". No, this is the day the Lord has made. You gotta choose to rejoice today. God has given you the grace you need, not to endure the season, that doesn't take any faith, but to enjoy the season.
When you're content, you see each day as a gift, you appreciate the people in your life, you're grateful for what God has given you. That not only is making you stronger, developing your character, but you're passing the test. You will come out of fall, out of winter, and you will come into your springtime. Things will begin to bloom and blossom once again.
When I was growing up, there were five of us kids in the house. Of course, my parents were pastors and we didn't have necessarily a lot of money but as a little boy, I always felt like we were well off. We had fun. We played hide and go seek in the house. We'd go out in the front yard and have big races. Life was good. But my parents couldn't afford to take us on a big family vacation every year so every couple of months, my father would load us kids up in the car and take us up to the airport to ride the tram from terminal A to terminal B. There were just two terminals back then and the tram was free. We thought that was so great. We would ride it over and over and over. People would look at us like we were so confused. We weren't lost, we were having fun.
My father learned to be content in each season. Instead of complaining that he didn't have enough, he close to bloom right where he was planted. It's funny, when some of my friends as a little boy would tell me they were going to Disneyland, I always thought that meant they were going up to the airport to ride the trams. I'd say, "Yeah, we've been there before". When I got old enough to realize what Disneyland really was, I needed counseling. But don't miss a great season in your life wishing you had more, complaining about what you don't have.
Listen, the real joy in life is in the simple things, making memories with your family, riding the trams together at the airport, playing hide and go seek in the house, watching the sun set with your spouse, looking at the stars at night, simple things.
When our children were younger, Jonathan about five and Alexandra would have been two, we planned a big vacation to Disneyland. They were going to get to eat breakfast with Mickey Mouse and take pictures with the other characters. It's a big deal, you know, getting two small children out to California and booking the hotel, getting the rental car, the flights. Spent half of my retirement to get there. When we arrived, we checked into the hotel and we went straight to the park.
I was so excited for my children. We weren't there 15 minutes Jonathan said, "Dad, I want to go back to the hotel and go swimming". I didn't think I heard him right. I said, "You want to do what"? He said, "I want to go back and go swimming". I said, "No, no, no, Jonathan, we're at Disneyland. We came a long way. Look at all these rides. Isn't this going to be fun"? He said, "No, daddy, I want to go back and go swimming". I said, "Jonathan, we can swim anytime at home at the neighborhood pool. We're at Disneyland". He sat down on the pavement, crossed his arms and said, "I don't want to be at Disneyland, I want to go swimming". I said, "Jonathan, I spent 50 bucks on your ticket, you're going to have fun whether you like it or not".
I thought later, I should have done like my dad and taken them to the airport to ride the trams. It would have saved me a lot of money. You don't have to have a big vacation to have fun. Learn to enjoy the simple things in life. A mistake we make too often is we think when we reach a certain goal, then we'll be happy. "Soon as I finish college, Joel, soon as I get the promotion, soon as I move into the new house, soon as I have this baby, then I'll enjoy my life". Yes, you'll be happy when you accomplish your goals, but there are challenges that come along with it.
I've heard it said with every blessing comes a burden. You'll never come to a place where you're problem-free, no conflict, no bills to pay, everybody celebrating you. That's not reality. If you don't learn to be content where you are, you won't be content when dreams come to pass. When God blesses you with that new house, what comes with it is a bigger yard to mow, more rooms to clean, more to maintain. When you're blessed with that promotion, what comes with it is more responsibility. When you have that beautiful baby, nothing like it in all the world but at 3 o'clock in the morning, that baby wants to eat. They don't do things on our timetable.
Now, don't pray for a bigger blessing if you're going to complain about a bigger burden. We love our new facility. This is a dream come true. God did more than we can ask or think but with this amazing blessing came an amazing utility bill. First time I saw it I thought, God, I sure liked our old facility. The good news is, God wouldn't give you the blessing if you couldn't handle the burden. You have the grace you need for each season. Now, do your part and choose to be content. You could be in one of the best seasons of your life right now, but you're not enjoying it because you're focused on the burden, on what you don't have, on how difficult it is. Because you're waiting for things to change, you're missing the beauty of this moment, the joy of today.
Don't go through life always wanting something else. See the gift in what you have right now. Can I tell you, we are living in the good old days. Twenty years from now, you'll look back and say, "Wow, 2018 was one of the best times of my life". Don't miss it living discontent.
A gentleman I know by the name of Mitch Albom wrote a great book called, "The five people you meet in heaven". They turned it into a movie, and although it's not scriptural, it makes a very good point. It's about a man in his 60s that had worked at an amusement park his whole life. His parents owned it and that's all he knew. He never really wanted to be there. He had dreams to do something bigger with his life but unfortunate things kept happening. He found himself back at the amusement park. He was discontented, unfulfilled, never felt like that's where he was supposed to be, dreaded going to work each day.
On the outside, he was good to people, kind, generous. He'd go out of his way to help others but on the inside, he was unhappy, felt like a failure in life, and at one point, this little girl was in danger on a ride about to be harmed and he rushed over to help her. He saved the little girl's life but in the process, he lost his own life. He was killed. He went to heaven and was told that he would meet five people. These people would be instrumental in helping him to choose what kind of heaven he would have.
Again, it's not doctrinally correct but in this book, you could choose what your heaven would be. If you wanted to live on a beach, in a palace, in the mountains, it was your choice. The first man he met he had helped during the war. The man told him how much he meant to him. He then met three other people that he had been good to. They expressed their heartfelt love and appreciation for what he had done. The last one he met was the little girl whose life he had saved.
He'd begin to realize all of his time on earth that he felt like he was at the wrong place, the wrong job. He didn't like his life but actually, he was at the right place. God had been directing his steps. He made a difference with his life. When he stepped back and saw it from a new perspective, he chose his heaven to be the amusement park, the place that he had dreaded all those years.
Could it be that you're at the right place for the season that you're in but you're not enjoying it? Maybe like him, if you would step back and see it from a new perspective, you would realize God has you in the palm of his hand. He's directing your steps. He knows where you are, what you like, what you don't like, and instead of living discontented, frustrated, always wishing you were somewhere else, embrace the place where you are. See the good. Be grateful for what you have.
Remember, there's a blessing and a burden for every season. Don't focus on the burden. You have the grace to enjoy the blessing. If you will make this choice that you're going to live content through every season, blooming where you're planted, not always wishing for something else, then I believe and declare you're going to enjoy your life more, you will rise higher, overcome everybody obstacle, and you will become everything God's created you to be.