So much of life is spent in the middle space. It seems as though we consistently find ourselves waiting for something. As students, we wait for graduation. As graduates, we wait for our careers to advance. As adults, we wait for potential promotions at work or relationships to blossom into marriages. If we get married, we wait to become parents. And so on and so forth. Each of our lives is different and we all go through different circumstances, but waiting comes to us all.
Like most people, I have dreams and goals and a vision for what I hope my future will hold. Most of those dreams haven’t been fulfilled yet. Many of those goals aren’t even close to happening. I don’t know how long the wait will be, and I don’t even know if those dreams will ever come to pass.
But over the years, as I’ve gone from one season to another, I’ve learned that how you wait during a season can have an immense impact on how you enter into the next season.
I recently met with a local chapter of Christian Women In Media. We sat around and dreamed together, discussed our next steps to accomplishing our goals, and shared what the hindrances were to those goals. I was encouraged and challenged by each woman’s story. They shared how they waited and trusted God in their wait and how they cultivated hearts of gratitude through it all.
I was inspired to learn how to wait well and make the most of the season I’m in. And I’ve come to believe that gratefulness is key to waiting well.
When I think of gratefulness, Philippians 4:4-8 comes to mind:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.
These verses in Philippians are some of the best on thankfulness. The Apostle Paul experienced all manner of trials, sufferings, and hardships, but he also experienced all manner of successes, joy, and accomplishments. He knew not only how to survive in seasons of waiting but also how to thrive in those seasons. He learned how to give thanks to the Father and rejoice in every season — on the mountaintop and in the valley, with abundance and with lack.
I’m not horrible at rejoicing at all times, but I could definitely do better. I find myself focusing so much on the now that I let discouragement and doubt set in. I forget how good and how faithful God is. And He is always good and always faithful. For that, I can choose to be thankful — in prayer, as I go to work, as I take care of my home, as I walk around my neighborhood, as I live through difficult times.
And this means that I must turn my thoughts, as Paul says, to think on what is true, right, pure, and lovely.
I tend to focus on the here and now and overanalyze all of the possible outcomes of a situation. I can get so caught up and begin meditating on whatever is not true or right or pure or lovely. But when I focus on God’s Word and His promises, those truths become seeds that will bear fruit in the season to come.
Cultivating gratitude is another way to think on what is true because it turns my mind from what’s in front of me to God — to His provision, His grace, and His presence. And as I do, my heart begins to turn from anxiety to peace as I see more clearly what God is doing in my waiting.
Seasons of waiting are not always easy, but they can be braved with gratitude. This kind of waiting pleases God, strengthens our spirits, and develops us for the season that lies ahead.