Noble Discontent
Ecclesiastes 3:11
He has made every thing beautiful in his time: also he has set the world in their heart…

I. THE REASON OF MAN'S DISCONTENT. Discontent is an unnatural, strange thing, in a world full to overflowing, as this earth is, of wonders, beauties, and all good things, and with natures fitted as ours are, to our condition in such marvellous wise. Yet has there ever lived a man without deep, serious, frequent discontent? The sensual and frivolous are, probably, supremely satisfied so long as they can turn at their will from one excitement to another; but it is otherwise with all who think, and inquire, and feel the mysteries in which all their questionings end. All allow that the pleasures of mind and soul are loftier and nobler than the pleasures of sense; yet, in the degree in which a man shares them he shares discontent, hankers after something he cannot find: he knows too much for his peace. It is not mere eternity which thoughtful man desires, not even the perpetuity of things as they are; but eternal life worthy of the noble name, and in harmony with his highest nature, in which the good he aspires after shall be attained, and the evil he deplores be removed, and the unseen God be beheld with joy, and served with undecaying energies.

II. THE MERCY OF MAN'S DISCONTENT. Is it a paradox to say that we are better for having these unsatisfied cravings? that to be without them would be to sink in the level of creation? Picture some tropical forest, where vegetable and animal life luxuriate to the full, and where the swarms exuberant with life know no discontent. Would you give up your high though unsatisfied yearnings for bright but unreasoning life like theirs? Or, when, in spring, you wander through the fields, burdened with cares, and doubts, and fears about the future, while the birds, in utter freedom from care, are filling the air with song, would you change with them, and part with your hopes of an endless life, your longings for the Father in heaven? Or, if, with unsatisfied desires of this noble kind, you meet with one who cares for nothing higher than the worldly wealth, and ease, and pleasure he enjoys, would you change your noble discontent for his ignoble content with "what perishes in the using"? Remember two things. Our discontent should be of this noble sort — aspiration after worthier, divine life, truth, purity, goodness, God; not, as often, base craving for money, ease, repute; and our longings, being a mercy, a dignity, should be cherished and cultivated. We must let the eternity we crave have its due, and live by faith in the unseen.

III. THE REMEDY FOR MAN'S DISCONTENT. We cannot get rid of it till we reach eternity; but it need not remain a painful mystery. Christ has come, and shown us God and immortality; He bids us move cheerfully towards the Father's house, and pursue "the crown of life." And looking on the things unseen and eternal, and pursuing them with faith, and hope, and patience, and courage, our discontent will be forgotten, first in effort, then in victory.

(T. M. Herbert, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

WEB: He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their hearts, yet so that man can't find out the work that God has done from the beginning even to the end.

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