By Deb Crowley of Urbandale, IA, USA
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth. —Psalm 96:11–13 NRSV
We, as well as thousands of others, were inconvenienced by a four-day power outage. No power for Christmas! Whining was not a useful response. Instead I pondered how “inconveniences” become blessings because God is at work.
It certainly was poor timing for a young woman, nine months pregnant, to travel on the back of a donkey, sleep under the stars, and cook over an open fire in order to comply with a government decree. Not only that, but to arrive in the city and end up spending the night of her babe’s birth in a stinky stable because there were no other lodging places available—totally insane! Wonder was born out of inconvenience.
The Israelites were delighted to begin the journey out of Egypt and slavery. Not many days into the journey, however, they became disgruntled with Moses about many things—a journey that seemed to have no end, the same food day after day, pitching tents, and sleeping on the ground. The inconvenience of it all wore on their last nerves. But forty years later they experienced freedom and peace worth every inconvenience suffered. Their plates overflowed.
The Apostle Paul was frequently imprisoned—a real inconvenience in his ministry schedule! Yet some of his most powerful testimonies of Jesus Christ were penned while sitting in his prison cell—powerful words of love and counsel to the people of the church, words that continue to guide churches today.
Our friends, a pastor and his wife, experienced inconvenience in the timing of the birth of their second child, born with serious heart defects that required surgery, hospital stays, and special care. They were trying to balance the needs of their three-year-old, their own health, broken furnaces, lack of sleep, and life in general. But friends responded in an outpouring of love and support. Prayers, certainly. But more than prayer—meals, child care, filling the void in ministry, offers of help too numerous to mention.
Perhaps inconvenience is really God’s gift. It’s an opportunity to pause, reassess, evaluate, and determine our attitudes and responses to glitches in our “perfect” human plans. Maybe God has something different in store—something that will bring blessing and make the world a better place. Yes, God is at work in the inconvenient moments—moments requiring our attention and ministry. Bring on the inconveniences!
Christmas Prayer Phrase
I ponder the mystery being born in me.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Spend a few moments dwelling in God’s presence. Pay attention to where your heart feels drawn into prayer. What words, images, or themes in this story lead you to reflect on your own faith journey? What is God’s invitation to you this day?