Learning to wait with true joy is one of the more difficult things we are called to do as believers.
This is for the girl who has been waiting for something for so long, her soul aches for the fulfillment that is still just a speck on the horizon.
This is for the girl in the hallway, praying for God to open that door.
And this is for the girl who feels despair taking over and doesn’t know how to get that real joy back in her life.
I’m not writing this from the fulfilment. This post wasn’t planned. Instead, it’s from the aching corners of my soul. I’m in the hallway with you, sister. I’m on my knees with you, begging God to open that door.
And I’m with you wanting true joy just as much as I want what I’m asking for.
Here’s the goal that I pray for myself and for you: that we can grow into women of courage.
Courage in real life is choosing to wait with joy and hope when our circumstances, the world, and even our own minds tell us that we deserve the freedom to wallow in despair.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wallow in anything but joy and hope. So how do we wait with true joy?
First, let’s talk about what makes waiting with true joy so hard.
Why is is difficult to wait with true joy
Waiting is hard enough, but sometimes well intentioned responses and the general attitude of the world around us makes it so hard to wait with true joy. Finally, we will look at the heart of the matter – it’s hardest to wait when what we are waiting for matters so much to us.
Hurtful responses to waiting
Even well intentioned people can sometimes give us advice or “encouragement” that just really makes it hurt more.
Maybe you’ve heard this: “You’re just being impatient. Your generation just expects instant gratification for everything.”
While a struggle for me (and honestly for people of all generations) is lack of patience, your soul struggle with waiting isn’t because you want that new purse and your budget doesn’t allow for it.
When you’re waiting for something so good and so close to your heart – like a godly relationship, the financial freedom to start having children, your dream job, a way forward through a scary medical situation…this response is like acid to the face.
The other response seems more kind, but can sometimes hurt just as much: “It’s all right, sweetie. God’s got a plan.
While we can mentally assent to the fact that yes, we know that God has a plan, the platitude doesn’t help. It doesn’t help us build that true joy and hope. In addition, it doesn’t show that the person speaking to us truly understands the soul-squeezing pain of waiting
Joy and hope in waiting are not encouraged
Another thing that makes waiting with joy so difficult is that the general advice from the world around us isn’t encouragement to find joy and hope. It’s to get angry! It’s to wallow. You deserve to wallow, no one could be happy with circumstances like that.
Often, this seems like the easiest course. The waiting hurts, so we wallow in it. Joy, hope, letting ourselves be encouraged, seems like opening ourselves up to more pain, so we wallow.
If this is where you are now, please don’t hear any judgement. I’ve been there too, and just because you can wait with joy doesn’t mean you won’t have periods where you wallow.
Instead, please see this as a hug, as a ladder down into the darkness and a friend to help you climb out. Because I’ve been there, and I know the way out.
What we are waiting for matters so much
The last thing that makes waiting so hard is that what we are waiting for matters so much to us.
Maybe you’re in a seemingly unending season of singleness and still waiting for God to bring a godly man into your life.
Maybe you’ve been married for a few years and all your friends are having kids and moving into shiny new houses, and you’re still trying to make ends meet month to month in a small apartment.
Or maybe you’re in a job that just pays the bills, and have submitted countless applications to your dream job only to get rejected every time.
These things matter.
These are good things and good desires to have – marriage, children, the stability of a home, a job that fulfills you and helps you best steward your abilities.
When this is what you’re waiting for, each day that passes with your dream unfulfilled seems like a kick in the gut.
You feel the pain as if it were physical. It squeezes your heart and once more, the tears spill out.
Waiting for something that doesn’t matter is easy – because it doesn’t matter. It’s hardest for the most important things.
So what do we do?
How to wait with true joy
There isn’t a magic want to erase the pain, to make time move faster, or to instantly grant our deepest desires.
But there are things that we can do to wait with true joy: pray, choose our focus, surround ourselves with the right people, and show grace. Let’s dive into each of these.
Pray for God to show you the joy in your waiting
When there’s nothing you can do, pour out your heart in prayer to the God who can do everything!I often fall into the trap of thinking, “There’s nothing I can do, so what’s the point?”
Prayer. We can always pray. Because of the work of Jesus on the cross, we can approach the throne of grace with boldness and ask for ANYTHING because that’s how much God loves us.
So pray boldly and specifically: ask God to change your attitude. Ask God to give you joy and to help you see joy and the hope in whatever circumstance you’re in.
Choose what you focus on while waiting
If you only focus on what you don’t have, it will be very hard to have joy and to wait well.
Ask yourself this: What am I dwelling on?
Here are some things to dwell on instead of what you’re waiting for:
- Gratitude: What has God already blessed you with that you can thank Him for?
- God’s hand: What is God doing in your life – in all areas of your life, that shows Him to be faithful?
- Scripture: Memorize, meditate, and speak aloud God’s word. It’s the absolute best thing you can fill your mind and heart with in any season, but especially in the waiting seasons. I’ve included some Scriptures that have helped me at the end of this post.
Surround yourself with people of true hope and joy
We talked earlier about how some people might respond in ways that are less than helpful. However, those are not the only people in our lives.
Who in your life is a strong believer, who knows what it is to wait for something that matters, and can speak joy and hope into your life?
Find those people in your family, your friends, your church, and allow them to build into you. Do not wait alone.
Show yourself grace to weep
Waiting with joy doesn’t mean that we never feel the pain, the sadness, the disappointment of hope deferred.
We will cry. When those tears come, don’t beat yourself up for them. There’s a difference between acknowledging the sadness and wallowing in it.
God holds each tear in his hands and doesn’t look down on you for them.
Pray. Choose your focus. Surround yourself with the right people. Show yourself grace.
This isn’t a formula for how to paste a smile on and fake it until you make it.
These are true and real things that have helped me daily choose joy in the middle of my waiting.
Scripture to help you wait with true joy
Finally, I want to share with you some Scriptures that have truly encouraged me.
All links are to Bible Gateway and written in ESV – but feel free to switch it to your favorite version of the Bible!
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
This reminds me that my waiting is not wasted. It has a purpose to glorify God and to cause me to grow.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!
I speak this to myself nearly every day. My hope isn’t in “luck” or “fate”. It’s in the God of the universe who can do anything and everything, and who hears each of my prayers.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Each day is a new battle with new mercies, but the same God.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
God’s plans are for my hope and my future. He’s kept every single promise that He has ever made, so I can trust that He will keep His promises to me.
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
In the darkest times, this is the cry of my heart: “God, I trust you. Help me to trust you.”
So now what?
There’s no substitute for filling our minds with Scripture. However, if you’re like me, songs to listen to are also so helpful.
I’ve created a Spotify playlist of the songs that encourage me in my waiting, so feel free to check it out!
If this post has encouraged you in your own journey to wait with true joy, please let me know on Instagram or Facebook – I would love to chat!
And please download my Scripture lock screens to help you stay encouraged throughout the day.