Matters of Faith: Discontentment Is The Beginning of Change


By Rev. J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv


Scripture (Joshua 7:7, 13 NLT):

Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign LORD, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side!

Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the LORD. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.  


As we near the close of Black History Month, I was reminded of the speech Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered at the March on Washington August 28, 1963 where he told the world about his dream. Do you remember or read those awe inspiring words lately? Do you remember when he said, “We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”


It was a wonderful and marvelous speech that challenged this country and the world. As I went through my morning meditation and prayer, I thought about that speech, it’s theme and its objective, its plea for human rights, and its purpose. Although Dr. King never used the word in his speech, my attention was drawn to a single thought; contentment. The scripture text says that Joshua cried out because 36 of the 3,000 soldiers sent to Ai were killed and the rest were scattered. He failed to realize that the Lord allowed this because one man of one clan had broken their promise (covenant) with God and stole what He told them was to be for Him., and then lied about it! It was a hard lesson because that person, Achan, was stoned to death. The Lord didn’t want His chosen nation to be content. He had better things planned for them, but hey had to be ready to receive it.   


In order to be ready, we have to be a level of discontentment and be disciplined, willing to make corrections, endure hardships, be mentally sound, morally straight and physically strong. It takes a lot of discontentment, as it did the Israelites, those civil rights activists and the freedom riders. It takes intentional sacrifice, sometimes of people’s livelihood and sometimes their lives. It takes commitment. It takes fortitude. It takes endurance. And it takes time. Far too many times we get caught in the web of immediacy. We become discontent, but don’t wait for the Lord to give us permission or direction and wind up like the Israelites, defeated and scattered. We’ve got to be sure to hear from the Lord, then wake up, get up, and get to work to make our dreams reality. Nothing worthwhile comes quickly, and nothing comes quickly that is worthwhile. Worthwhile things manifest over time, birthed in discontentment. If African Americans, myself included, had been content with what we had, we would not have what we now have, nor be where we are.


If we are never discontent with our situation or circumstance, we will never develop disciplined thoughts, disciplined efforts, disciplined speech, disciplined relationships, or put forth the effect to make things different. Discontentment can develop into habits and actions that will stimulate our imagination and make us work to make our dreams come true. We realize that in great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.  


Dr. King’s dream may not be completely realized yet, but we cannot stop dreaming. We are certainly much closer to it today than we were on that sun-scorched day of August 28. It has already been proven by the twice-elected President, Barack Obama, that discontentment, coupled with an intentional and committed effort, has made the dream of a nation where people are “not judged by the color or their skin, but by the content of their character,” closer to being a reality than ever before. With a genuine discontentment and disciplined commitment, ”we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”


Be Blessed +++


Rev. J. Loren Russell, BS, MDiv is President/CEO of The JLR Company, and an associate minister at both Goodwill and Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio (internet), Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM., or by phone at 646-226-1448.  


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