In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine listed “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” At the top was Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” Second on the list (presuming no bias in the choices made by the magazine) came the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” This song, both in its intended sense and even when pruned of its innuendo, has served as the anthem of the past half-century (it was released in 1965). It therefore comes as no surprise that USA Today reports that the majority of Americans, in every age group, feel that they have never discovered their destiny. There is no reason they should have. For once we cut ourselves off from the ground, means, and end of both our satisfaction and our destiny, we simply starve to death spiritually. No satisfaction means no contentment.
Here is one more facet of the gospel that meets our culture at its point of need: Jesus Christ gives what the world cannot — contentment.
This at least is what Saul of Tarsus—one of the least naturally contented of men—discovered: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound . . . I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11–13).
What does it mean to be content? Paul may have startled his Philippian friends by using a Stoic term for a Christian disposition. Was he hinting that what Stoicism sought — detachment from the disturbances of strong emotions — the gospel alone provides, but without denying or avoiding the reasons for the emotions themselves?
By contrast, for Paul contentment comes to expression in situations that arouse strong emotion—having plenty, having nothing—but it is learned in a different school from the Greek Stoa.