“ ‘Look at the birds of the air,’ Jesus said to the crowds gathered around him (Matt. 6:26). I’ve been looking at the birds lately, and it strikes me that today our lives are more akin to the frantic scurrying of rats and the disciplined marching of ants than to the contented and joyous singing of birds. In some regards, we humans are more like rats and ants than like birds. But there’s more to today’s dearth of contentment and joy than just the elements of human nature. Cultures of postindustrial societies encourage and reward scurrying and marching more than they do rejoicing. They reach into what seems like the most intimate regions of our hearts, and by affecting our desires and our sense of responsibility, they disturb the peace of contentment and suppress the buoyancy of joy. …’The eye is not satisfied with seeing, or the ear filled with hearing,’ writes the author of Ecclesiastes (1:7–8), describing the ancient experience of insatiability. We are finite, but our desire is infinite, limited, it seems, mainly by our need for rest. Insatiability is a human condition—but one that the modern market economy magnifies. According to Kenneth Galbraith, the modern market doesn’t so much respond to existing needs by supplying goods, but rather “creates the wants the goods are presumed to satisfy.” Desire, hunger, and dissatisfaction are the market economy’s fuel. The more fuel it has, the faster it can run, and so it creates the void it seeks to fill. The result is a rushing stream of both amazing and not-so-amazing goods and services—along with a perpetual lack of contentment and diminished capacity for joy. The relation between joy and contentment at any given moment is straightforward: the less content you are, the less joy you will have (though discontentment often precedes joy). Joy celebrates the goodness of what is, what was, or is to come; the market economy fuels insatiability and malcontent, systematically erodes the goodness of what is, and cripples joy.”
“I have learned how to be content
with whatever I have.”
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Do you often find yourself “scurrying?” Does scurrying seem normal or good?
- Are you an “insatiable” consumer? If so, why?
- Can you recognize and reject artificially created “needs?”
- Are you willing to be a person who has less than others? …who is “learning” to be content?
Abba, In my work, may I be motivated, not by anxiety or greed or ego, but by gratitude and the desire to lovingly serve you and others.
For More: The Living God and the Fullness of Life by Miroslav Volf
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God after you. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)