The Lust of the Discontent

So much of my life has been spent lusting after fame. It didn’t matter whether I assumed the role of a musician, a minister, a teacher, a coach, or an author. The lust would leap out of me like a raging tiger, driving me to daydream and scheme. The same lust would also make me insanely jealous of those who seemed to find some measure of fame. Trying to cage the tiger always failed. It would find a way to escape and leap out again. Only much later did I come to understand the lust behind that lust. It is the lust of the discontent.

I have spoken about my lust for fame many times to varying audiences. Although the fame issue doesn’t resonate with everyone, the discontentment does. We can be discontent with our physical looks, our family background, our earning capabilities, our lack of power, our job status, our marital standing, our children’s behavior. The list is endless. And with the discontentment comes an envy of those who seem to have what we don’t. The envy can then drive in us into a corner where we become hypercritical, embittered, and finally hateful. This where our lust always takes us. 

Psalm 73 is the story of a man drowning in the lust of the discontent. He sees the arrogant having a good time. He watches the rich get away with murder. As someone trying to follow God’s way and yet suffering because of it, he feels discontent. He gets jealous. He becomes disoriented. He even describes himself as a brute beast. Sounds like the raging tiger is alive and well in this man as well.

But this psalm moves us beyond the discontent. As he honestly voices his lament, God meets him and surprises him with a revelation. He suddenly remembers the ruin of the wicked. He recalls the moral universe that God has set up: when a man chooses to break His laws, those laws break him. And he finds the answer to his discontentment. He finds the water that extinguishes the lust. He meets God. 

“Yet I am always with you. You hold me by my right hand” (v. 23). The remainder of the psalm is one of the most powerful declarations of trust in the Bible (vv. 24-28). 

What are we do with the lust of our discontentment? Just like the psalmist, we are to voice it. We take it to God. And we wait for Him to meet us. For me, the longing for fame only faded when I began to see God seeing me. I realized that what I wanted wasn’t fame before others, being noticed by them as special. What I really wanted was to be noticed by God, to be special in His eyes. I needed to experience that I was always with Him, that He held me by my right hand. 

My journey is the journey of all who are sick of their discontented lust. It is the journey of coming home to God. If you are walking this journey, keep walking. If you need to start, there is no better time than now.

The journey’s end is a good one — the joy of the content.

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