Standing Knee-Deep in a River (Dying of Thirst) is a classic Kathy Mattea song, first made popular in 1992 and still often replayed on YouTube.
It is a moving song of a person thinking back over all the friends with whom she had lost touch, the sweethearts who went separate ways, and other lonely people she passed each day, who could be friends if she just reached out to them.
Most Americans are “standing parched, knee-deep in a river” of blessings, but they seem to be dying of the thirst of discontent. The English word content means “desiring no more than what one has.” The Greek word (arkeo) means “to be satisfied.” Thus one who is content is satisfied with what he has and has no desire for more. How many people do you know like that?
What, then, are the springs from which the river of contentment flows?
Spring 1: Contentment comes through the fear of God.
Solomon wrote, “The fear of the Lord tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited
Multi-millionaire William Randolph Hearst invested a fortune in collecting art treasures from around the world. One day Hearst read a description of a valuable art item and then sent his agent abroad to find it. After months of searching, the agent reported that he had finally found the treasure.
To the surprise of Hearst, the priceless masterpiece was stored in none other than his own warehouse! This wealthy
man had been searching all over the world for a treasure he already possessed. Had he read the catalog of his
treasures, he would have saved himself a lot of time and money. As believers we may be like that. We look for
contentment in the world, though we’ll never find it there. Yet Christ has already given it to us. The fear of God leads us to seek out God’s way, which in turn helps us find contentment.
Spring 2: Contentment comes through strong desire for righteousness.
Jesus said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6
Athletes are said to be hungry when they have a strong competitive spirit. An aspiring businessman is said to be
hungry when he is willing to work extra hard and do whatever it takes to be successful. Some are hungry for prestige,
riches, honor, fame, or political office. These are not the things for which we should hunger (Colossians 3:2
The word means to be “satisfied with food” and originally described the feeding of animals with hay. What is a better picture of contentment than a cow having eaten to the full and then standing in the shade chewing her cud?
Spring 3: Contentment comes through trust in God's presence.
Only God has the ability to provide lasting satisfaction (Psalm 107:8-9
). He promises to give that which truly satisfies—“the sure mercies of David” (i.e., the blessings promised through the coming Messiah) (Isaiah 55:1-3
). David came to see himself as a sheep in God’s pasture, and there he found deep contentment. He wrote, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2
). What was it that Paul had in mind when he made the famous statement, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me”? (Philippians 4:13
). He was facing the challenge of contentment (Philippians 4:11-12
). For someone as ambitious as Paul, it doubtless was difficult for him to cool his heels in prison without frustration bubbling over. The phrase “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is actually saying, “I can do all things; I really can!”
Spring 4: Contentment comes through trust in God's promises.
Paul’s contentment sprang from his confidence in “even as.” He told a pagan ship crew, “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me” (Acts 27:25
). He told the young preacher, “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12
The knowledge that God always keeps His promises will grant us peace in the midst of any difficulty.
When we are persecuted, we can trust this promise: “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).
When tired and burdened, we can trust: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
When our life’s in chaos, we can trust the promise of “peace that passeth understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
When tempted, we can trust this promise: “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
When we are facing sickness, disease, injury, and aging, we can trust Him to “change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself ” (Philippians 3:21).
When we fear that we may be lost, we can pillow our heads upon this wonderful truth: “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).
Spring 5: Contentment comes through a relationship with Christ.
Jesus is the “water of life” (John 7:37
) who offers an overflowing life to His followers (John 10:10
). He promises to “give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Revelation 21:6
). To start this relationship with Christ, one must pick up a Bible and begin to study His life and teachings (Romans 10:17
). This will produce faith in an honest and good heart (Luke 8:15
; Hebrews 11:6
). Faith leads one to repentance, confession of Christ, and baptism for remission of sins (Acts 2:38
; Acts 8:37
; Acts 22:16
). Then one can drink deeply from the springs of Christian contentment as he/she faithfully follows The Prince of Peace (Revelation 2:10
Aren’t you a little thirsty?