A couple of months back, I was almost late for a performance. Not because I had mistimed my schedule, but because of a signal fault between the Bayfront and Promenade stations.
Panicked, I had to run up and down the flight of escalators to find information on the free shuttle service. When I finally had enough of being referred from one flabbergasted officer to another, I decided to just walk to my destination.
“They could get it right when I was growing up, why can’t they do it now?” I grumbled under my breath.
But God soon brought to memory this verse in James 3:9-12: “With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father, and with it, we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing …”
With the same mouth, I along with a great many Singaporeans have both blessed and praised the name of Jesus while also cursing our transport system — one built and maintained by people made in God’s own image.
Well. If I don’t complain, what then should be the response?
We need to remember our transport system is built and maintained by people who are flawed just like us.
When was the last time you got a perfect score on an exam, assignment or project? If you can think of one, that’s genuinely great! But was there ever a time when you got anything less than a perfect score?
No one is perfect. But imperfection in life — right down to transport failures and breakdowns — is only the evidence informing us that we live in a broken world.
Scripture tells us in Colossians 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.” Honestly, my natural inclination reading this was to think of how much their mistakes cost me in terms of my time. But as I read on, I saw something: “as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
We must forgive. We have been shown grace and mercy by Jesus Himself. We deserved death, yet He first showed us grace by making the first move to save us.
So if Jesus could show us grace and forgiveness despite our sin, what then will we show the world when we suffer mere inconvenience?
We must forgive.
The next time something goes wrong, or doesn’t go according to a plan or schedule, pray over the issue knowing that God is bigger than any problem.
In a discussion with some friends, I recently heard this gem of wisdom: “The amount of time we spend on our knees in prayer, determines how big of a God we believe in.”
When the transport system fails, we are often self-centred, considering first the inconvenience and implications the disruption has on us and our time.
Few would consider the workers and engineers working tirelessly to get the system back on track as soon as possible. Fewer still would think of the staff at the affected stations, enduring abuse from commuters each time such incidents occur.
But as Christians, we are not called to mockery or scorn. I know God would rather have us out there interceding and helping the people we instead oppress or laugh at.
Jesus charged the disciples in Matthew 10:8: “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” In this verse, personally, I sensed Jesus calling me out to intercede for all the workers we so often neglect in our transport system.
When we pray for our transport system, we join a fellowship of other believers who are also interceding for the same thing, so that when the problem is resolved, the prayers of petition may become thanksgiving and praise offerings — fragrant to God who is sovereign over all of life’s problems.
But as Christians, we are not called to mockery or scorn.
24 hours. That’s 1440 minutes … or 86400 seconds. What are we doing in that time?
We need to make full use of our time, even when our schedule is disrupted. We are quick to presume when our time is wasted. But the truth is we waste a lot of it ourselves without help or inconvenience.
Here’s the thing: while men may mistakes, God doesn’t. He knows exactly when every train disruption is going to occur, for what reason, and how to solve it. We can believe that God still has a purpose for His people in disruptions or inconveniences.
What are some things you can do while inconvenienced? Perhaps instead of playing Rules of Survival, Mobile Legends or other games, maybe we could spend a few moments praying for those people hard at work to restore the service.
Maybe a disruption is a firm reminder to take out the Bible you haven’t opened in weeks. Maybe this inconvenience is an opportunity to reflect and meditate on what God has to say to you — and hadn’t you been asking to hear Him better?
Maybe instead of complaining with your fellow passenger, it’s a chance to share Jesus with them. The point is we are not helpless, we have a purpose and a calling in Christ Jesus that doesn’t take a back seat for mere disruptions.
Instead of grumbling and complaining, let’s show grace and pray for those hard at work for us. The next time a disruption happens, let’s make use of the time given to us to make a difference to our walk with God or someone who has yet to know Him.
It’s what Jesus would do.