A Path to Contentment
Marybeth Whalen

“And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life.” I Corinthians 7:17 (MSG)

I have heard it said that comparison is the death of contentment, and truer words were never spoken. As I read this verse, I was struck by what Paul was saying. His words took me back to a place in my life when I was discontent with my marriage, my home, my children, and my life. I looked around me for answers and compared my situation to others. The trouble was I had limited information as to what was really going on in other people’s lives. I could only see what they wanted me to see, what they chose to reveal.

This habit of comparison led me to dissatisfaction with my husband. If only he were more godly. If only he were more attentive. If only he made more money. If only he understood me better. If only he were like so and so’s husband, then… This vicious cycle continued for many years, diminishing my husband in my eyes, and defeating our marriage from the outside in. Unless something changed, we were doomed to join the statistics.

It was the Truth in this verse that led me to stop the madness. Instead of focusing on other people, I focused on my husband. Instead of wishing away what God had given me, I started counting my blessings. Instead of wanting what I didn’t have, I worked at wanting what I had already been given. This external shift in perspective resulted in an internal heart change. Over time, I learned to live out the Truth in this verse.

If you break the verse down, you find three parts. One: Don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. This statement is true for both spouses, and reflects an attitude that is rampant in the culture. Be careful of the times you say to yourself, “If only…” Those statements lead down a dangerous road.

Two: Where you are is God’s place for you. For reasons you may not understand, God has allowed you to be in the place you are in. Instead of spending time wishing it away, spend time seeking God to determine His purposes for you. Use this as an opportunity for spiritual growth. This is true for singles as well as married couples.

Three: God defines your life. Don’t let your spouse, position, address, income, or anything else define you. If you have been guilty of letting these things define you, ask for His forgiveness and take steps to break free from these attitudes today. Spend some time letting the God of the Universe tell you who you are and what He sees in you. Don’t look to your spouse, your friends, your coworkers, neighbors or family members for these answers.

These three steps will lead you down a new path. This path leads to hope and contentment, freedom and abundance.

Dear Lord, Please tell me who I am in You. Help me to seek your answers and not look to other people’s situations as a solution. Help me find the path You have carved out for me so I can live the life of freedom and abundance You have uniquely planned for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Marybeth Whalen’s blog

Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

For more on marriage issues visit

Do you know Him?

Application Steps:
Is there someone you tend to compare yourself to? Perhaps it is a neighbor or family member. Write down any names God has brought to mind and any action steps you can take to stop looking to them.

What feelings does this verse stir up in you?
Which of the three parts most applies to your situation today?

Power Verses:
Psalm 16:11, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 4:8, “There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. ‘For whom am I toiling,’ he asked, ‘and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?’ This too is meaningless—a miserable business!” (NIV)

Philippians 4:12-13, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” (NIV)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the wise and amazingly timely words. You spoke directly to my situation and convicted my heart. After a rough weekend at home, I was thinking how much easier my life would be if only my husband was more godly and feeling envious of my friends who share a strong faith with their spouses. I have been guilty of destroying my marriage from within by focusing on my husband's weaknesses and shortcomings. Thank you for opening my eyes and giving me a feeling of hope that I am where I am supposed to be. I was so busy focusing on my husband's failures and throwing myself a pity party, I had taken my focus off of God and his promises to me. Thank you for your honesty about your own situation and your willingness to share. God has used your words to bless and encourage me in a very special way today.

Blogger Joyce said...

In the 13th year of marriage I had the same questions. I wish I had that verse to help, but I did not. I worked through it and now I am in our 38th year and life and marriage are wonderful. It did not take all that time, but it has been a joyous experience and I would not take anything else for it. God is so Good.

Awesome post!

Blessings to you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to comment that I loved your words today. Personally, thanks be to God!, I do not have marriage problems, but on the other hand, my children struggle right now. We have 3 who are either foster or adopted. They have problems with the who/why and out of control feelings. I have changed all the "spouse" to "family" and am giving them each a copy to read over. God has them here in our home for a season and a reason. I pray that God's words will speak to them and give them encouragement for their lives. God has blessed you with words to share!

Blogger Lisa said...

Marybeth, why is it that women tend to compare themselves to other women? We always think someone else is better or has it better in life. What it all comes down to is that we should really be looking at Jesus and striving to be who He wants us to be. I learned through a very difficult situation that I was to treat my husband the way Jesus wanted me to, and not what I felt he deserved or didn't deserve. A friend taught me that through a time when she prayed for me. That's when I started seeing changes take place in my marriage

This line: "God defines your life."

I'll whisper it again and again. Transformative truth.

My humble gratitude...
God uses you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I have been married 31 years and I still need this advice. God continues to help me appreciate my husband for himself and his strengths and uses annoying things that my husband does to develop patience within me. God has been the glue that has kept us together this long. Praise to His Holy Name!! Thank you for this wonderful reminder.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

These words can apply not only to marriage, but life in general. While I certainly can apply this to my marriage and gain a better appreciation for my husband, I can also apply it to my job, house, etc. Sometimes we lose focus and become discontented with our jobs, wanting another one, our house, wanting a different one, cars, etc. Instead, we should, as you stated, realize we are where God wants us to be at this time. Even a job we don't like, we're there for a reason and possibly just a season until the next one God has prepared for us comes along.

Blogger Lynn said...

In the next couple of weeks, Lord willing, I will have reached a goal set 2 years ago. That is when I researched my options and the requirements to be prepared for a specific area of service -- one where God had been leading for quite some time through some very unique experiences. This path has had so many detours and delays as to be at times exasperating, to say the least.
Reminding myself continuously that, as you say, "Where you are is God's place for you... Instead of spending time wishing it away, spend time seeking God to determine His purposes for you. Use this as an opportunity for spiritual growth." I have so had to allow God to move me in this way, asking Him to show me the opportunities in each of those places to be Jesus in some situation and to someone whose life He is choosing to bless through me. That thought is humbling. It doesn't necessarily make the twists and turns any more pleasant, but it does keep me on my toes to watch where He is at work and join Him as I make the journey.

Blogger Donna said...

For me the first 8 years of our marriage was the roughest for my husband and I, during this time there were so many times that I wanted out of our marriag. It seem like satan was doing everything that he could to try and destory our marriage. Things had gotten so bad that I contacted a divorce attorney to start the paper work for divorce that is how bad things had gotten. But I can remember calling my husband's aunt one day while at work and talked with her about what was going on and told her that I wanted out. She was a Holy Ghost filled woman, she told me just to wait that God had a plan for my husband. My husband re-dedicated his life to Christ in 1989 we have been married for 27 years know and he is a minister at our church.

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