From Constraint to Blessing

Posted by Albert Ng on

In 1975, 17-year-old Vera Brandes organized a late-night concert at the Opera House in Cologne, Germany, featuring the pianist Keith Jarrett. Due to some mistakes, on the concert night, the requested Bösendorfer 290 Imperial concert grand piano wasn’t prepared! To everybody’s horror, the staff have placed a rehearsal piano on stage instead! The condition of the piano was so bad that it was rightfully called an “unplayable piano.” But they found it out only a few hours before 1400 people took their seats in this sold-out event!

Jarrett initially refused to play, but finally agreed to do it only after incessant pleading by Brandes. They decided to record this impending disaster in order to document what could go wrong if the right piano wasn’t there for Jarrett to play.

The result?

“The Köln Concert” goes on to become the best selling solo album in jazz history and the all-time best selling piano album.


The imperfection of the piano forced Jarrett to do something novel. The constraints placed on him propelled him to become creative.

Recently, I have been experiencing some “low-grade anxiety” due to all the limitations and constraints forced on me due to the Coronavirus. Jarrett’s story reminds me of this saying:

“Some people find problems in opportunities. Others find opportunities in problems.”

The Bible says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“In all things”, regardless of what the circumstances, God can still work in our lives to bring out something good.

My brothers and sisters, we have a choice. We may choose to sit out this Coronavirus, hoping that everything will “go back to normal” later. Or, by the grace of God, we will choose to “seize the opportunity” (Ephesians 5:16) and ask ourselves self “What does this constraint make possible?”


© 2022 Island ECC - A Dynamic English Speaking International Church in Hong Kong