I Deserve this….. : Discontentment is Entitlement

Hey Reader,

Welcome back to Living Contentment – as always the intent is to give you a nudge towards real, deep contentment with something contentment-related to read, to do, and to pray.

We’re currently revisiting some causes of discontentment. If you have been reading this newsletter for several years – you’ll probably remember some of these.


Our family has lived in several places with a significant ex-pat population. Groups of people living and working not in their ‘home country.’ To be frank, you often see a fair bit of entitlement from ex-pats.

In Africa, it can look like an employer saying to someone: ‘This is going to be so hard – but we’ll do everything possible to help you. We’ve arranged a house and a car for you, and school for your kids is taken care of. You’ll have a house-helper and a nanny, and a driver and we’ve arranged for someone to buy your groceries, and take care of all your paperwork.” Then someone responds with “I deserve better than this…do you know what I’ve given up to be here?!”

We get used to living at a certain comfort level, and it grates on us when someone we think has it easier than us has the audacity to complain. Imagine a couple who has one child, the mother stays at home and has full-time help. The husband’s job is flexible and works from home half the time. They explain how it’s impossible to do anything other than feed themselves as they’re so swamped.

I tend to think of how when our third was born, we had a 2 and 4-year-old. I had a new job, we were completely gutting and renovating our house ourselves (for a while didn’t even have a working full bathroom) We didn’t have a nanny or house cleaner. Susan had just finished working days before she delivered Micah after a hard pregnancy.

Then I consider the families who lived around us in rural Burundi. None have running water or electricity. They mostly have 5 or more kids, and live in a one-room mud-brick house. If they are relatively well off- they have a clay-tile roof. They work the fields, collect firewood, cook on an open fire, and fetch water every day. All to survive. And here I am all self-righteous and proud of how low-maintenance I am. In reality, I am just as entitled as anyone – if not more so- I just set the bar in a slightly different place.

We will never be content when we think we deserve better. When we think we deserve more, or even when we think we deserve what we already have. We’ll struggle to find contentment as long as we think we’re due something.
Thinking somebody owes us.
Assuming life owes us.

There is no way to be content when we think we don’t currently have what we should.
That nagging feeling of, ‘I deserve better’ sneaks up on us, and it is deadly.


“Sure, fine….that’s right and all, but at least I deserve ______________.”

This house.
To be respected.
To have people appreciate what I do.
To have a family that…..

What do you fill in the blank with? Be honest. What do you think you deserve? Because, if we accept the Bible, the only words we can truthfully put in that blank are “death” or “life apart from God.” Anything better than that is a gift. Something we didn’t deserve.

Think about the things that you feel you deserve, that are actually incredibly gracious, generous, undeserved gifts.


My dear Lord,
though I am so very weak that I have not strength
to ask you for suffering as a gift,
at least I will beg from you
grace to meet suffering well when you in your love and wisdom bring it on me.
Let me bear pain, reproach, disappointment, slander, anxiety, suspense, as you want me to, O my Jesus,
and as you have taught me by your own suffering,
when it does come.


John Henry Newman (1801 – 1890)

Talk to you next Thursday!