The Lurking Thief: A Lesson on Discontent

. . . Be content with what you have. . . Hebrews 13:5

“Mom, we’re headed outside.”  The words are punctuated by a slamming door.  A glance out the dining room window shows my children and our black Labrador traipsing into the backyard.  Adi quickly locates a stick and engages our oldest in a game of “Keep Away-Chase.”  When the game ends, Adi goes searching for me. 

Eventually, she realizes I’m still in the house. That’s when I hear the most pitiful whimpering sound.  A peek into our family room reveals a sweet canine face peering in our porch window.  I open the door and in she bounds.  For a moment she’s happy.  Until the sounds of the girls playing outside reach her ears and then she’s at the door waiting to be let out again.  Only when I let her out, she’s crying to come in minutes later. 

My Lab has fallen prey to a lurking thief called discontent.  It sneaks in, steals contentment, and leaves a restless void in its place.  Sadly, I’m prone to falling prey to this thief just like my pup.  Watching Adi has given me a better understanding of discontent.  I’ve realized the door to discontent is cracked open when our ideal isn’t being met.  In Adi’s case, her ideal is when her pack, which is composed of me and the kids, are all in one place.  The door is further opened with the realization that it’s outside our power to change our circumstances.  So, when Adi realizes she can’t access us at her own will, she becomes miserably restless.

Whether the robbery takes place depends on our choice to lock the door or allow it to remain ajar.  Weary of opening and closing the door at every whip stitch to provide my Lab with a fleeting moment of contentment, I finally stumbled onto the secret that keeps the thief of discontent at bay.  “What might that be?” You ask.  Simple.  I ignore Adi’s pleas for a change of circumstances.  Eventually, she’ll accept where she’s at, relax, and lie down by the part of the “pack” she’s nearest.

One day while washing dishes, I peered out the kitchen window and my eyes settled on Adi lying contentedly in the grass.  Just minutes earlier she had been at the screen door whining to come in.  Now she was enjoying the shade of our large Ash tree while quietly watching the girls play on the tire swing. 

As I worked, the words of Philippians 4:11 played through my mind. “. . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance.” As I chewed on this verse, the Lord whispered to my heart, “I want you to find your peace in Me not your circumstances.” The key that locks the door to discontent can only be Jesus.

Lord, thank you for the times you lovingly ignore my pleas for change and teach me to be content where I am at with You. Amen

“But Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

1 Timothy 6:6
“Thou camest not to thy place by accident,
It is the very place God meant for thee;
And shouldst thou there small scope for action see,
Do not for this give room to discontent.” 
 - R.C. Trench*

*Tileston, Mary W.  Daily Strength for Daily Needs. (1891)  Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1994

© 2019-2022, Lessons from a Lab, Beth Alisan.  All Rights Reserved.

46 thoughts on “The Lurking Thief: A Lesson on Discontent

  1. Beautiful post, Beth. I find that sometimes discontent—or at least desiring a change from the status quo—can also redirect our focus. Perhaps, Adi is saying “Come join us in this joyful moment. What you’re doing will wait.” But, you’re right. Our discontent disrupts our path and often disturbs our hearts and minds leaving us wondering to see if the grass is really greener on the other side. Great, thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a wonderful post and so very true! Finding contentment amidst our current circumstances is a gift…especially, when we cannot change those circumstances. Oftentimes, we must be patient with the conditions surrounding us; often, unseen blessings are waiting for us in those exact places. Perhaps, the grass always does seem greener on the other side. it seems that way until we get there!!! Finding peace in whatever ‘patch’ of grass we encounter can be very good for us. God surprises us with many joys we could never find in any other grassy spot. We find sweet clover and Buttercups, Dandelion wishes and tall grasses that sway in the wind. God knows every meadow that we should pass through. He knows our hearts and every footstep we should take.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Linda! What a beautiful word picture of contentment you have painted in your comment. You are absolutely correct. Some of the sweetest honey comes from a pasture of clover. Happy Mother’s Day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My kids are at the age where you do very motherly things on mother’s day like sit in the cold at a soccer game, but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. It’s one of the beautiful parts of motherhood.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful! Your solution is a better (or at least quieter) one than I saw at a farm where I did an interview. 🙂 The family installed a screen door to the kitchen that could swing both ways and the farm dogs could come and go as they pleased. During the interview, they were so proud to show this trick to a visitor they came in and out about 100 times! I wanted to nail the door shut myself…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Nora! I too will pass on the open and close screen door option. My head wouldn’t spin fast enough to keep up with who was coming and going. Plus, we’d probably gain a few more dogs from the community to boot😂


  4. Hi Beth,
    I sank into your words so easily, knowing and agreeing with the wonderful message you were bringing. And I also thought of “separation anxiety” which works in much the same way. It comes to animals as well as humans. It is most severe in the human heart that is away from the Lord.
    Have a wonderful day with your family, and hug Adi for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Mary! You’ve made a powerful connection to separation anxiety. Only when reunited with God can the separation anxiety that fills a human heart melt away. It’s the same with animals. We take measures to help both our dogs be more relaxed when they are left home alone but only when we walk back through the door are they truly at ease.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “I ignore Adi’s pleas for a change of circumstances.” You helped Adi find the key to resolving her momentary discontent, Beth, by removing one of her two choices: the back-and-forth desire to be two places at one time. Isn’t that so very like the wisdom the Lord uses with us? Isn’t discontent so characteristic of the fast- moving, confusing times we now live in? Like humans, so our pets.
    Finding resolution may be a more complicated round- about for us, but the answer comes down to a single choice as with Adi: acceptance and rest in the Lord’s will for us and drawing close to His nearness. It reminds me of Isaiah 30: 15 “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” I treasure how the Lord can uncomplicate matters for us in so few words. Much as you did with Adi. I love the story you wrapped around this lesson, Beth! Thank you! Blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your reflections on this lesson GW! God is so good in making the complicated simple and bringing order to chaos. I completely agree that discontent is a characteristic of the fast moving, social media saturated, confusing times we live. You’ve aptly applied Isaiah’s words to this lesson. Repentance, rest, quietness, and trust all draw us nearer to our Savior. I had to think of the chorus to a country hymn that goes “Just a closer walk with Thee/ Grant it Jesus, is my plea/ Daily walking close to Thee/ Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I need to bookmark this, I have a grandchild that is in a season of high struggles with discontentment. This is such a great analogy, Beth, I think the lesson may be absorbed easier in this parable form. Thanks, for sharing yourself and your wisdom. God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I really love this well timed thoughtful post Beth; it speaks to my situation I find myself in tonight where I am in a state of constant frustration, not being able to concentrate on any task. As you so accurately point out I need to focus on my Lord and Saviour, allowing Him to minister to my situation. God bless you and your family tonight sister.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Alan, I’m so glad this lesson spoke to you. To be honest, I had plans for a different lessons to be posted today. Only it wouldn’t fall together. Finally, I filed away the few thoughts I could get on paper. Earlier this week, I sat down with my binder of lessons and prayed, “Lord, what do you want posted?” This is the lesson that grabbed my attention and stuck. Now I know why. The Lord is so good. May our Lord’s grace cover you in those moments of personal frustration.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Great reminder Beth. Yes my mind knows that the grass is NOT greener on the other side of the screen door…but something inside will needle me until I push it open. Thank God for His patience as well as His discipline that will lock that door until I settle my heart.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Nancy

    This is a great post and really spoke to my situation, Beth. Although the pandemic is less of a threat to most people, it is not for my immune compromised husband. Therefore, we are pretty much confined to our home. It’s been hard for us lately and we wonder when it will end for us and we will be able to return to church, gatherings with family and friends, etc. I’m usually a positive person and God has given me the ability to see beauty and goodness through all the challenges we’ve been through over the last 7 years and has used our testimony to help others many times but lately this isolation has been emotionally draining. I needed another boost in my Spiritual veins and your post this morning has helped. I will remember Adi lying in the grassy shade of contentment when my negative emotions rise up and I will remember everything I have to be grateful for…and there really is so much! Gods Bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nancy, thank you so much for taking the time to share this. COVID has certainly made the circumstances surrounding your husband’s illness much more complicated. I’m so glad this lesson brought a needed boost to your spiritual veins! The Lord knew and certainly orchestrated this. I had another lesson in mind to be posted today, but whenever I sat down to work on it my thoughts wouldn’t flow cohesively onto paper. Finally, I filed away what little I did have for future reference. On Wednesday, I sat down with my writing binder and prayed, “Lord please show me which lesson you want shared.” This one jumped out immediately. Not understanding why this one now, I posted it in faith that it had a purpose to serve. Your comment is giving me a glimpse of that purpose. May our Lord’s face continue to shine brightly down on you and your husband in this week to come.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This spoke to my heart, Beth. You said it perfectly that the key to being discontent is Jesus. It’s so easy to compare my various situations with others, especially in this day of social media. How quickly I let myself focus on imperfections and not on Jesus. I’ll remember Adi and how she finally let herself rest in her circumstances. May I do the same every day as I look to Jesus. I love your lessons, Beth. Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Patty and I’m so glad the lesson resonated! I learned this lesson several years back and it lead me into a season of praying this prayer everyday as I walked Adi, “Lord, you are a good, good Father, so I know this place you are keeping me is your best for for me.” My circumstances haven’t changed one bit BUT my perspective has been transformed from one where I was chaffing and seeing the grass greener everywhere other than where I was to a deep, peaceful contentment. As Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled. . . “ John 14:27. Blessings to you and Aaron as you embark on a new week!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. “The key that locks the door to discontent can only be Jesus” Yes! Like Paul said, “If we have hope only in this world, we are of all people to be most pitied.

    Your quote by R.C. Trench made me think of my former pastor’s email signature.

    “…had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, God would have put you there.” Charles H. Spurgeon

    Great post, Beth! God Bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “As I worked the words, of Philippians 4:11 played through my mind. “. . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance.” As I chewed on this verse, the Lord whispered to my heart, “I want you to find your peace in Me not your circumstances.” The key that locks the door to discontent can only be Jesus”

    And what a truth this truly is!!


    Andy B

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Andy! I am slowly chewing my way through your book. It would be easy to devour quickly, but I want what you are saying to sink in. When I am finished, I will leave at review on Amazon as I know that reviews help inspire others to purchase.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re very welcome.

        And thanks so much for your kind words. I look forward to reading your thoughts / review.

        A few have read it in one go – they told me they couldn’t put it down. That’s super encouraging too.

        I’m quite touched you’re choosing to read it slower. Thank you!

        Andy B

        Liked by 1 person

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