“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts…” _Ecclesiastes 3:11
Why is it that we humans cannot be content?
Living in the Dakotas, I seem to be surrounded by contentment.
I can’t begin to count how many cows I’ve observed lying contentedly in the sunshine chewing their cud. I’ve seen the same thing in the wild kingdom as well. Herds of bison, pronghorn, elk, deer—contented, satiated, satisfied–apparently perfectly happy living day-to-day receiving their “daily bread”.
Even a grizzly will be gentle as a lamb if he’s fed well. The same is true with rattlesnakes; they are as nice as a church mouse if their bellies are full and they’re lying in the hot sun (However, they don’t like surprises! Watch where you step.)
But their human counterparts? Us. We just can’t be content.
In contrast to the cattle, the Ranchers who own them (cows have no desire to own humans) will battle winter storms that are indescribable in order to protect their investment of livestock (cows also don’t have investments).
Calving season comes early and it is not uncommon for calves to be born in some of those extreme storms, but the ranchers and their entire family will rally together and work long through the freezing nights to keep those little calves alive—they don’t want to lose one of them.
Discontentment drives them. They are not just interested in their next meal, they are funding hopes, dreams, and aspirations.
This is true from Wall Street to Main Street and down every highway and country road across the globe—from deserts to isolated mountain ranges and in every hamlet, village, town, and city. The world is populated with billions of humans driven by discontentment.
Why is this?
Why can’t we be satisfied with having our daily bread?
Why do we want to accumulate more than we need?
But our discontent doesn’t stop there. We not only want to accumulate more than we need, we want to accumulate more than neighbor. Matter of fact, we often want what our neighbor has!
So we get create markets and exchanges and “money” so we can trade and barter among ourselves. And if that won’t work, our discontentment even drives us to go to war among ourselves.
The rest of the animal kingdom doesn’t do this.
We go to the Farmer’s Market, not the Cow’s Market. Not once has a herd of deer gone to war with a herd of cattle over a plot of pasture. (They all just graze together.)
And what about shelter. Having available shelter is not enough for us. We want to own it, paint it, make it bigger, fill it with stuff and then better stuff…it never stops!
And what about our incessant need to travel–to go places, see things, and accumulate meaningful and fun experiences. (What’s that all about?)
Unlike the animal kingdom, being able to walk to our next meal is not enough. We want to own cars, build ships and go across the ocean. No wings? No matter. Our discontentment drives us to conquer the laws aerodynamics and built planes! And the heavens? We can’t be satisfied with looking at them, we built rockets and space suits so that we can go to them.
I’ve got to stop. We have a busy day ahead of us. But honestly when you think about it it’s amazing isn’t it?
Biologically we are animals, yet we are so different from the rest of the animal kingdom.
What is that difference?
Could it be that we are more than animals? I can think of no better explanation.
The ONE THING for today: Our discontentment tells us that we are more than a biological amalgamation of matter. What we do with that discontentment makes all the difference. Oh God! Give us wisdom! And please guide our hearts towards the things that truly matter.