If you quote Shakespeare make sure you quote him correctly. Probably goes for anyone you quote, but Shakespeare is given a good shaking when it comes to misquotes.
And not simply misquotes, but misunderstanding the quotes you quote correctly.
The classic of course, is from Richard III, when Richard, fresh from victory states that “Now is the winter of our discontent.”
We all know what that means of course, we’re discontented and it’s a bad time of the year. And since it’s winter solstice in the southern hemisphere (enjoy your longest day northerners, it’s all downhill from tomorrow), it’s a good time to talk about how that quote fuels discontentment.
Except it doesn’t. It does the exact opposite. The winter of discontent means that discontent is, for the moment, put to bed. For Richard it means that all victories are won, all battles finished, and for a warrior king that means things are just a little too content; a little too at ease; a little too kindly. The discontent that drives Richard to battle and victory now has to be bedded down for the winter because there is very little to be discontented about. Everything has been accomplished. And if that’s the case, it’s time to go looking for mischief.
For Christians we live in a permanent winter of discontent. That does not mean that everything that we wish to have been accomplished has been, but that the things that are necessary for us to survive, nay thrive, have been accomplished for us. Our discontent at what needs to happen can be bedded down.
Contentment is a sign of God’s in-breaking kingdom into our lives in the form of repentance. That’s why John the Baptist called on soldiers to be content with their wages.
Hebrews 13 calls on Christians to “keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have”, not because we should learn to live with less, but because we’ve been given more – Christ. That’s why the passage goes on: “for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ Christ’s presence is a great anchor for contentedness.
St Paul said that he had learned to be content – the hard way. Having known lack and having known plenty, he figures out that it is not the situation that determines his contentedness, but the presence of the Saviour, as another badly mangled quote goes on to say: “For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That’s not a verse about your athletic endeavours or your job goals, but about your ability to be consistent through the variables of life because of Jesus’s power.
Christian, if you feel you have much to be discontent about, whether personally, or because of the direction of your marriage, your job, the culture, the state of the church, whatever, let the victory Christ has won for us lead us into a winter of discontent, before the glorious summer of the Son returns.