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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish

Handling Inconvenience

It was Christmas eve. The snow had begun to blanket the streets of Denver. I need to get out of here soon.

Business meetings had run longer than anticipated. Already a day late—and barely an hour to catch my flight,—it was nearly impossible for me to enjoy the beauty of the falling snow.

Thanking the taxi driver, I grabbed my bags, navigated my way through the terminal, and entered the long queue of people waiting to get through security. How long is this going to take, I wondered.

Arriving at my gate with minutes to spare, I realized boarding had not begun. Approaching the attendant at the desk, she informed me the flight was delayed—and possibly canceled. “We’re waiting for confirmation,” she said with a smile.

Relieved that I had not missed my flight, I immediately questioned if I would make it home for Christmas. What an inconvenience, I thought. Forcing a smile, I thanked her for the information and joined the other passengers who watched as the snow was transforming a picturesque scene into a blizzard-like condition.

Handling inconvenience begins with a proper perspective.

Not everything in life is convenient. A delayed flight is an annoyance. I needed to remind myself that this was only an inconvenience, not a problem.

All disruptions we encounter are not equal. A dictionary definition helps us understand that inconvenience is “the state of something causing trouble or bother.”

It was easy to view my soon-to-be canceled flight as something more substantial than a nuisance. But it wasn’t. Was I troubled and bothered? Yes. It was inconvenient. It created disappointment and annoyed me.

But accepting—and not fighting—that which I could not control, helped me regain a healthy perspective. There will be another flight, sooner or later, I reminded myself.

There are more urgent things in life than a canceled flight—or imposed COVID-19 isolation.

Robert Fulghum, artist and author, reminds us:

“One of life’s best coping mechanisms is to know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you’ve got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat and a lump in the breast are not the same kinds of lumps. One needs to learn the difference.”

Surrendering our frustration helps us regain a healthy perspective that allows us to discern the difference between a problem and an inconvenience.

Each inconvenience allows us to grow and discover.

Hopefully, I displayed an outward countenance that was kind and understanding. But inwardly, I recognized a growing frustration, which, if not checked, would result in an unhealthy display of anger. Why is this so troubling to me, I wondered.

When wanting “my way” is interrupted, it’s always a good thing to notice what’s happening inwardly.

As a follower of Christ, I’m to deny myself. “If any man will come after me [follow me], let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24, ESV). That’s so counter-cultural!

Self-denial wasn’t popular in Jesus’ day. It still isn’t. We are encouraged by society to insist upon our rights. What I want is more important than what you desire. “Who are you to tell me I can’t?” “What gives you the right to tell me what’s best for me?”

I’m learning that the source of my struggle with inconvenience is my insistence of having things “my way.” But Jesus reminds us: In His Kingdom, it’s his way, not our way that’s most critical. Paying attention to my emotional turmoil helps clarify my struggle.

That awareness is my invitation to surrender my insistence. It allows me to discover—and obey—Christ’s purpose.

Life is full of inconveniences. And a proper perspective helps us see the blessings we have because of life’s disturbances.

The apostle Paul lived with a “thorn in his flesh,” an inconvenience and weakness that disturbed him. Scholars have argued for years as to what this “thorn” was. Some suspect it may have been a constant temptation. Others, a chronic sickness. No one knows for sure. But we do recognize that it was inconvenient for Paul.

Three times he asks God to remove his “thorn.” What Paul discovered with his annoyance was it became an opportunity for him to learn that God’s grace is sufficient, and His power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).

I almost missed seeing the beauty of the falling snow.

Yes, my flight was canceled. Yes, I did make it home for Christmas—just not the way I thought I would.

Does a pandemic inconvenience us? Yes. If we will surrender our impatience, embrace self-denial, and become aware of what’s happening inwardly, we, too, will discover a more excellent lesson.

When I’m impatient, God’s grace is always sufficient, and God’s power is made perfect in my weakness.

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