Waiting in joy and praise


“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:4b-5

This scene occurs immediately before the Ascension, and Jesus is telling the apostles to wait patiently for the Holy Spirit. The corresponding scene from Luke’s Gospel tells us: “Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” Luke 24:52-53

These passages are instructive for what is many people’s least favorite season in life: waiting. It may not seem long for the apostles to wait: 10 days until Pentecost, or as they’ve just been told, “a few days.” But, given that their lives were at risk every day they remained in Jerusalem, the waiting must have been intense.

In this waiting time the apostles found themselves “in between.” They’ve gone from bodily walking with Christ to the Ascension. The Holy Spirit has not yet descended on them. They’re left waiting without the tangible presence of Christ, and yet unable to feel the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.

But, the apostles didn’t take this as a hardship. They undertook waiting without seeing it as uncertainty. They remained certain in the promise of Christ, and spent their waiting time joyously praising God.

Like the apostles, we will undertake seasons of waiting. Waiting for a circumstance to change. Waiting for a prodigal loved one to return. Waiting for an answer to prayer. Waiting to feel God’s presence in our lives. In these waiting times it can be hard to see them for what they are: times of preparation for our purpose.

In these times we’re called to wait with joy and praise, assured in our faith in Christ that we do not wait in vain, and we need not live in worry. Like the apostles, we know our waiting will be met with the all-encompassing embrace of God in the Holy Spirit, guiding and empowering us to fulfill our purpose in the Kingdom.

Almighty God, grant us the strength of peace and patience to embrace any season of waiting as a season of preparation for our purpose, and let us enter these times with joy and praise, assured that no faithful waiting is done in vain. Amen.

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