While living in California, I ached to own a home of my own. I felt like I wasn’t providing for my family. Seeing as the purchase price for a small, two-bedroom bungalow was over $500,000, that dream could never come to fruition…especially if I continued to work for a young Christian publishing company. I often felt sorry for myself and lived in a state of permanent discontent. I coveted what others had and was rarely satisfied or grateful for the many blessings I had already received from God. I had a loving wife and two adorable, healthy children, a career where I could implement my creative gifts every day, incredible friends, and a great little home ten miles from the Pacific Ocean. Yet, I couldn’t cease from coveting the things I didn’t have. I would desire more, recognize the sinfulness within my own discontent, and then hide it deep within my heart. The aftermath was destructive. By internalizing my discontent, I became depressed. My wife, children, friends, and career were deprived of the attention and time they deserved because I was too self-involved. By hiding and internalizing my sin, others suffered.
You would have thought that by moving to Colorado and buying a home, I would no longer covet. That just wasn’t the case. The problem with coveting—and it has been the problem since Eve coveted the forbidden fruit and gave it to Adam—is that once you get what you covet, you end up coveting something else. For several months after my divorce, I would sit in church and watch other couples. I would tear-up as I coveted their lives, their apparent happiness, the love and affection they shared. I coveted nuclear families and the fact that their children would never have to endure the pain of divorce that my children had to endure. Their ostensible functionality made me sick; I even stopped going to church for a while because I couldn’t prevent feeling sorry for myself. I couldn’t circumvent my own sins to focus on the real purpose for being there. Then there was Facebook. Research suggests that social media can be associated with depression. On Facebook, we see these enhanced and premeditated images and status updates of other people’s lives, when quite often they’re far from reality. In fact, the images that ran through my mind at church were most likely false ideals. What happened, though, is I compared my own life to the embellished ideological lives I saw in church or online, and I envied these people while feeling sorry for myself. Once again, I internalized my discontent and began the downward spiral that only lead to darkness and despair.
There was only one solution; one way to escape—one door through which I could discover hope, light, and contentment. I had to repent and ask the Lion of Judah, the one and only Redeemer to remove my discontent from my heart before it forever dominated my existence.
God promised the nation of Israel a beautiful land of their own—a land flowing with milk and honey. By the time the walls of Jericho came tumbling down, that promise was the real deal. The Israelites were at an all-time high; they had everything they could have possibly wanted and more. Like I said before, the problem with wanting, is that once you get what you want, you end up wanting something else. It was during this all-time high where a man named Achan, from the house of Judah, repeated the folly of humankind. Achan wanted something he couldn’t have, so he took it, and then he hid it. Achan’s sin didn’t just harm Achan, it harmed the entire community. Soldiers died, Israel injured her reputation, and Joshua reached his lowest state of desperation. When Achan hid his sin, others suffered. Because Achan caused so much trouble, the Israelites took him, everything he coveted and stole, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, stoned him and his family to death and buried them and their possessions under a pile of rocks. Therefore, that place has been called the Valley of Achor (which means “valley of trouble”) ever since (Joshua 7:24-26).
Several years after this rather unfortunate incident, the prophet Hosea wrote, “There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt” (Hosea 2:15). Hosea was speaking of a day when we will no longer receive our deserved punishments for our sins. Instead, we will enter a door of hope. We will get to hang out in vineyards, drink wine, and never be discontent again. Hosea was speaking of Jesus. Someday, Hosea promised, another man from the line of Judah will open up a door of hope for all humankind. Where Achan failed, Jesus will succeed. Jesus will provide us with that escape from our downward spirals. Jesus will open that one door through which we can discover hope, light, and contentment. Jesus “will rescue [us] from this body that is subject to death” (Romans 7:24).
I’m relieved I have a Savior. If not, I’d be under a pile of rocks somewhere in East Bellflower, California. I’m not saying I’m completely free from discontent. Unfortunately, the enemy still holds that carrot of coveting out in front of my nose and coerces me into periods of self-pity and envy. Yet, Jesus is always there inside a doorway of hope, welcoming me to enter into his presence and offering me a peace that surpasses all understanding. And instead of aching for more stuff, I’m aching for more Jesus—because our stuff just gets buried with us under a pile of rocks in a valley of trouble.