May God Grant You Holy Discontent

By Rev. Dave deFreese, Vice President of Church Relations and International Programming at Mosaic

“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning."  --Joel 2:12

Never grow comfortable with cruelty.

Our personal sin is not God’s sole (soul) concern.  Often the prophets called God’s people to repentance for the systematic sins of their community living; inequality, injustice, and the lack of hospitality.  With dire warning, the prophet Joel calls the people to a fervent discontent with the way they were treating each other and the stranger.

Passionately oppose every bit of inhumanity you recognize.

Joel implores us, “Blow the trumpet…sound the alarm.”  God cares how we attend the needs of one another.

Work for justice and be outraged when it is denied.

To have holy discontent is to see harm and to respond with hope.  Holy discontent awakens us to be fully alert to the struggles around us and to be motivated to make a change that is for the good.  Holy discontent is the catalyst against prejudice and inequity.

Holy discontent gave birth to Mosaic one hundred and seven years ago. Pastor K.G. William Dahl had a dear friend Gustav, who had epilepsy.  Gustav had a seizure in public and was immediately incarcerated.  Pastor Dahl went to see his friend and was heart broken to see him naked, in a cell, and humiliated.  Out of that wrenching experience, Pastor Dahl said no one should be treated so, and Mosaic was begun.  A community of acceptance for those who struggled to fit in society.  Think of the lives touched and changed by that holy discontent.

Holy discontent stirred Susan Crawford to design Rejoicing Spirits, a nationwide out-reach ministry.  Sitting in worship on a Sabbath, she noticed the lack of persons living with obvious disabilities as a part of the faithful gathered.  Knowing this was not natural nor a picture of the community in which she lived, she sought to offer an opportunity for people of all abilities to worship and grow together.  Rejoicing Spirits was born, and its impact for enhancing the Church has been profound. Valued voices have been invited to share, and the Church has become more whole.

These are days of increasing apathy, of unprecedented complacency that has given rise to a dangerous mean-spiritedness in our society.   The Church is not immune.  A recent study by the National Survey of Children’s Health found that “American churches are failing to meet the needs of children with cognitive disorders.”  Researcher Andrew Whitehead concluded: “This population is unseen because when they show up, they have a negative experience and never return.”  Author and mother of two children with Down Syndrome, Heather Avis writes: “I’ve met countless other parents who have stopped going to church once they have a child with a different ability.  The environment was just too difficult for their child to navigate and they did not feel welcomed anymore.  Christian churches must do a better job.” 

Holy discontent compels our God-given gravitational pull toward goodness to long for a more loving response.  These positive yearnings in the midst of negative circumstances unleash compassion.  We hunger for something to right all that feels so wrong.  In a time when disconnection seems epidemic, we seek connectedness.  When people seem increasingly immune to others’ pain, holy discontent drives God’s people to generate powerful ripples of compassion, acceptance, and joy.

Thank you for your efforts to express hope and care, to invite others in, and to be the Church for the sake of the world.  May God grant you the gift of holy discontent.


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