How to Get Off the Consumption Treadmill
How to Get Off the Consumption Treadmill
We have friends who used to live in an amazing 35th-floor condo. They had panoramic views of the ocean, city, and Diamond Head. One night they invited us over for dinner. After a great meal I was standing out on the lanai with the husband sipping drinks, and I couldn’t help but to say, “Wow, this view is incredible!”
He mumbled, “Yeah, it’s alright.” I said, “What are you talking about? Don’t you come out here every night and just soak in this view from the 35th floor?” He said, “Actually? I come out here every night and I wonder what the view is like… on the 36th floor. You see that building right there? It’s blocking part of my view. I’ll bet the guy in the unit above me doesn’t have that problem.”
Solomon was right when he said, “The one who loves silver is never satisfied with silver, and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with income. This is futile” (Ecclesiastes 5:10). The things of this world can give you temporary sparks of joy, but they can’t give you lasting peace.
Most of us struggle to believe that. We keep thinking, “If I only had this one thing, then I would be happy. If I only had a new car. A new house. A husband. A wife. A different kind of husband, a different kind of wife. If I only had kids who listen to me and didn’t give me so much attitude. If I only the talents and skills that person has. If I only had the body that person has. If I only had a better job. A better boss. Better friends. A better church.
We always think there’s this one thing that we need, and if we could get it, then we would be happy. But then, when we get it? It’s never quite as satisfying as we hoped it would be. Why is that?
Solomon knew why. He had it all, and he came to realize something really profound. Whatever it is in life that you think is going to make you happy? Even if can obtain it, only God can allow you to enjoy it.
Solomon said, “Everyone to whom God has given riches and wealth, he has also allowed him to enjoy them.” (Ecclesiastes 5:19). Describing a man like my friend, who was given much in life but couldn’t find joy, Solomon said, “God did not allow him to enjoy them” (Ecclesiastes 6:2).
You can have a sweet car. An epic house. You can have a great husband. Perfect kids. You can have a perfectly-toned body. The job of your dreams. But you won’t be able to enjoy it until God empowers you to enjoy it. You won’t find peace in any of those things until you’ve found peace in God. The prerequisite to finding contentment in life is finding contentment in God.
So how do we find that? How do we escape the treadmill of consumption where we always keep running to obtain more, but never seem to make any progress in our joy and peace? How do we develop contentment in God? Two steps:
1. Trust God’s sovereignty.
God is in charge. Of everything. If you don’t understand God’s sovereignty or if you don’t fully believe it? You’ll never be content. You’ll always feel like there’s something you’re missing out on, because you feel like everything’s up to you.
It’s like watching Netflix. You’ve got a million shows to choose from. You should be happy as a clam. But if you’re like me, you’re scrolling through all the options and you’re paralyzed by so many choices. Once you finally make your decision? You tap on The Great British Baking Show? You’re thinking the whole time, “Is this the best thing I could be watching right now?”
I’m always thinking there’s a better show, when I’ve got a million shows to choose from. I was a lot happier before Netflix, when we had basic cable. We only got 12 channels, and half of them were Public Access channels with the Mililani Neighborhood Board meeting on a neverending loop. So I would have to settle on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I was a lot happier when there was somebody else who was deciding what I would watch and when I would watch it.
Life is a lot easier when someone else is in charge. When you come to realize that God is in control of everything in your life, and that he’s providing you with everything he wants you to have? Then it’s a lot easier to be content. You can work hard to get the things in life you want and need, and then leave it up to God as to whether or not you actually get them.
2. Trust God’s goodness.
One of my favorite verses says, “Young lions lack food and go hungry, but those who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing” (Psalm 34:10). Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. If there was something that would be good for you to have? You would have it. If you don’t have it? It wouldn’t be good. At least not for you. At least not right now.
Every single thing that’s good for you? Guess what? You already have it. Every. Single. Thing. And first on that list is Jesus Christ. God has already given you the best thing in the universe, his only son. And through Jesus he’s given you freedom from your sin. He’s given you adoption into his family. He’s given you new life through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Trusting God’s sovereignty and goodness will help you jump off the treadmill of consumption and experience contentment, joy, and peace that you’ve never felt before.