The secret to a happy life is…
By Jessica Brodie
In our house, a favorite movie these days is “The Greatest Showman.” Our four preteen kids love it, my husband and I love it, the soundtrack is phenomenal, and on any given day you can find our oldest picking out one of the tracks on the piano or our younger daughter belting a tune at the top of her lungs.
I’m partial to the rousing embrace-your-differences anthem “This is Me,” while the kids constantly war over whether “A Million Dreams” or “Come Alive” is best. But there’s one ballad, “Never Enough,” that makes me pause and almost come to tears every time I hear it. I’ve actually stopped washing dishes to close my eyes and croon the words (sorry, family—I’m well aware a singing voice is one gift God did not grant me).
Yet even as I sing, caught up in the raw emotion, the words that come from my lips seem fully at odds with all I value, and invariably I trail off, singing done.
See, if you don’t know the tune, the song seems to reflect all the desires of the major characters in the movie, from one-sided love to a taboo romance. (Take a listen here.) The gist is, of course, in the title: nothing, no matter how wonderful, will ever be enough. And while it’s certainly a tragic/romantic notion, it troubles me. Nothing? Seriously—nothing will be enough?
Not new love? Not kindness? Not world peace? Not… God?
It’s just a song, I know. But reading words from the book of James in the New Testament recently, it occurred to me that his reprimand and wisdom for the early church hits at the heart of what has always troubled me about the song.
James asks, “What is the source of conflict among you? What is the source of your disputes? Don’t they come from your cravings that are at war in your own lives? You long for something you don’t have, so you commit murder. You are jealous for something you can’t get, so you struggle and fight. You don’t have because you don’t ask. You ask and don’t have because you ask with evil intentions, to waste it on your own cravings” (James 4:1-3 CEB).
We are to be content with what we have. The apostle Paul urges us to be glad in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4) and that true peace is found only in the Lord. For as he says, “ I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor. I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).
All we have—riches or poverty, love or loss, sickness or health—is a blessing. All can be used for God.
I still love “The Greatest Showman,” and I still do a killer off-key “Never Enough.” But like Paul, like James, I know the secret to being content: all I have is a gift from God. And it’s always enough.
Let me know in the comments below: Do you struggle with wanting more? Is nothing ever enough? Or have you learned how to be content (share your tips and thoughts!).
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