Finding Joy In The Waiting

This post is written for Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one word prompt.
Today the prompt is “joy.”
Also linking with Word of God speak and Glimpses

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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.

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 Word-of-God-Speak Embracing Every Day

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29 thoughts on “Finding Joy In The Waiting

  1. “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.” ME TOO! Great post and thoughts!

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  2. Waiting is so hard. I watch my kids struggle with it. I’ve gotten better at chronological waiting, but the more seasonal waiting is hard. I spent so much of my life rushing to the next thing and now I wish I could slow it down a bit. Thanks for the great reminders.

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    1. Thanks, Bethany. Waiting is definitely not easy. I think it’s not so bad if we know how long we have to wait but it’s harder when the timescale or outcome is uncertain.

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  3. This: “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.” Waiting is so hard. I’m in the 4 spot this week.

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  4. Paul really challenges me: if he can find joy in prison with an uncertain future, then surely I can find joy in the middle of my struggle, too. Thanks for sharing, Lesley. Waiting is something in whichwe all need more encouragement.

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  5. This post was so encouraging to me tonight. Sometimes, it can just feel like waiting is such wasted time, but, oh, if we could only see what all God is doing under the surface and behind the scenes! It is so hard to wait on God’s timing, especially when we can’t see any signs that He is listening to our prayers or moving on our behalf. Thank you for the precious encouragement you are to so many, Lesley. God bless you and yours with a wonderful Christmas!

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    1. Thanks, Cheryl. I’m glad it encouraged you. I agree, it is hard to wait when it feels like we’re wasting time and we can’t see what God is doing. We just have to trust that he is working for our good. Christmas blessings to you and your family!

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  6. Loved your insights here! Especially when you said, “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.” This brought me such encouragement that indeed, when we place our focus on Jesus “instead of the waves” and search out for how He is working in the situation there I will find contentment.

    This was truly an Ah ha! moment for me. 🙂

    Thank you.

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  7. Yes, it is hard to be joyful in times of uncertainty, but I’ve been encouraged by Paul’s letter to the Philippians many times. Thanks for sharing this encouraging post!

    I’m visiting from Glimpses this morning. Have a wonderful – and joyful! – week!

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  8. Seems all I do in my life is wait. LOL! But, yes, it can be hard to find joy while waiting if our focus is not on the One Who gives joy. God is always right there at the intersection of “Waiting & Joy”. Paul must have faced quite the uncertainties when he came to those streets himself. Blessings and prayers to you! (Visiting via Barbie’s #glimpsesofhisbeauty linkup.)

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  9. I agree. Joy and waiting are not usually synonymous. Just look at people in a long line or stuck in traffic. I’m not one to like to wait much either, but as I’ve matured, I try to remind myself that if I am waiting, there is a reason… even in a traffic jam, but instead of being angry and frustrated, I try to use the time productively. Tell a story to my kid, pray for people around me or just breathe deeply and relax. How much more important for us as believers to learn to exercise self-control when we must wait spiritually, and be confident that God will clear the roadblock in His time.

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    1. I like the ways you identify to use the wait productively. We can’t always do anything to shorten our wait but we can choose our attitude and make good use of the time. It definitely helps to trust that God knows what he is doing and that he’ll make a way for us in his time.

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  10. A friend of mine wrote a song that talks about how there is beauty in the waiting. I never really understood that phrase until I went though some pretty difficult times. In those places, God drew nearer and revealed so much more of His heart to me. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks, Barbie. I think often the times of waiting are when we see our need of God more clearly. It’s not easy, but there is a beauty and a joy as God draws close to us through it.

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