I don’t know about you, but waiting and joy are not normally close companions in my life. Frustration, impatience, doubt and discouragement are more common results of a time of waiting and uncertainty than abounding joy.
This morning though, I was reading the start of Philippians, a book in which joy is a recurring theme. Even just reading the first chapter, Paul’s joy explodes from the pages. It’s impossible not to be caught up in it.
But the remarkable thing is that it’s not a letter written from a place of pleasant circumstances or victory. It is written from a place of waiting and uncertainty, from a prison cell where Paul was detained, unsure of how long his wait would be and what his fate would be when it finally ended.
It makes me wonder: what is his secret? How is joy even possible in such a desperate situation?
I think the answer lies in his focus. He never once complains about his situation. Instead his focus is on Jesus: on finding contentment in him and looking for where he is working in and through the situation, in encouraging others in their faith, in taking every possible opportunity to share the Good News. Even the matter of his own life or death is seen as insignificant: “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” (Philippians 1:21)
Paul is an outstanding example of waiting well and it’s all about focus. As Wendy Pope puts it in her book “Wait and See”: “As we wait, we find peace in God’s plans and hope in his pauses. Our focus moves from the object of our wait to the Person of our faith.”
And that’s where we find the joy.
Join me throughout November and December as we explore the topic of waiting. Click here for an index page of all the posts in the series.