I’m sure we all know the feeling of fatigue that causes one to say, “I just feel like I’m sucking wind.” If the fatigue is brought on by physical exhaustion then a season of rest and a good night’s sleep will bring much needed refreshment. However, we often suffer from a different kind of fatigue that is harder to pinpoint. Perhaps we are not even aware of it’s deteriorating effects in our lives. This is the fatigue of life brought about by a spirit of discontentment.
I have recently been reading The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs. Written by an English Puritan and published in 1648, I expected this work to be difficult and laborious to read. How wrong my initial assumptions! Burroughs is full of wit and wisdom that press home the great mystery of contentment. What I found most surprising is his consistent use of illustrations to help explain the point being made. As he teases out the subtle nuances of contentment, he carefully illustrates each point to make it even more accessible.
One such illustration struck me recently. On page 91 he makes the argument that one of the reasons we do not have contentment is because we are looking to the things of this life to bring fulfillment and peace. Our natural tendency is to think that if I just had a little more, then I would be content. A little more money, a little more success, a little more influence, a little more ability, then everything would be okay. Burroughs writes, “Many men think that when they are troubled and have not got contentment it is because they have but a little in the world, and that if they had more then they should be content. That is just as if a man were hungry, and to satisfy his craving stomach he should gape and hold open his mouth to take in the wind; no the reason is because the thing is not suitable to a craving stomach.”
Such an illustration sheds light on the madness of the situation. We can clearly see the foolishness of a man gulping in air and simultaneously complaining that he is starving! He doesn’t need more wind, his stomach wasn’t designed for it. He needs food! How true for us as well. Yet so often we find ourselves fatigued from chasing after the things of this life assuming that they will bring satisfaction. Contentment will never be found in having more riches, success, power, ability or influence.
As Burroughs states, “When a soul comes into the school of Jesus Christ, and there comes to see vanity in all things in the world, then such a soul comes to have contentment. If you seek contentment elsewhere…you seek for rest but find none.” Sucking wind? Perhaps you have been seeking contentment in that which will never satisfy because your soul will only find its rest in God.