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Contentment or $100,000?

I recently came across an article entitled, “$100,000 Income  Needed In All 50 States To Live The American Dream.” The American Dream is defined as “the ideal that every citizen of the United States should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative”(The Oxford English Dictionary). The question is, what is the rationale behind this? In some cases, with a large family and the cost of a new home and monthly payments, and everything else added on to that, it may be a necessity. However, if people are wanting to go for the “American Dream” just to make themselves happy and content, is it really worth it?

Happiness depends upon a lot of things, not just how much money is in the bank account. World conditions, the economy, occupation, family life, and living in a particular neighborhood, to name a few, can all affect one’s happiness and contentment.

In contrast to the pursuit of the “American Dream” according to a report by Lending Club, “as of January 2024, 60% of United States adults, including more than four in 10 high-income consumers, live paycheck to paycheck. This means that over 160 million Americans are struggling to make ends meet each month”(emphasis mine). For these people, contentment is probably an illusive dream.

Aside from the factor of money, many Americans are living lives of unhappiness. They are taking prescription drugs for physical and emotional/psychological disorders, and everything else. There is hopelessness with no purpose for living resulting in suicide. Many people are not as wealthy as it appears on the surface because with all generations combined, Americans owe more than 1 trillion dollars on their credit cards.

So, while some are chasing the “American Dream” a large percentage are living in hopelessness, depression, fear, uncertainty, and loneliness, with huge debts from paycheck to paycheck. The bottom line is that happiness and contentment can’t be measured by how much money one has.

In Philippians 4:11-13 the Apostle Paul wrote,”…I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Yes, it is hard to be content when one struggles every month to meet their financial obligations and the needs of their family, but the Greek meaning of “content” is “satisfied, adequate, competent, or sufficient.” It is relying on God’s grace and provision.

1 Timothy 6:6-7 says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.”  Hebrews 13:5 states, “Keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have…” 

The “American Dream” of earning $100,000 a year is clearly not attainable by most Americans, but contentment is. Do the best you can with what you have and rely on God’s loving grace for what you are unable to do.

Seek to live a Godly life not contingent on your finances. Do not “set your hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to  enjoy”(1 Timothy 6:17).

About John Clark

John Livingston Clark is 74 years of age and lives in central Washington State. He has written two published books, and two published poems. His initial book is called, " God's Healing Hope: Breaking the Strongholds of Wrong Thinking." His second book, released in December of 2016, is a motivational book written to seniors titled, " Seniors: Are You Retiring or Recharging?" Both books are available on amazon. You can also view his writings on www.faithwriters.com. His “Poem For Senior Citizens” is in the 5th spot on FW.

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  1. Great Word John!
    Thank you – God Bless~

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