A Christian Science perspective: What does it mean to wait patiently on God?

We often find ourselves waiting for all kinds of things throughout the course of our day. We might be waiting for the political or economic climate to change, waiting for people to notice a job well done, and perhaps even waiting for relief from illness. But if waiting means not doing anything until something happens, then we are not just waiting, we are actually stagnating. Taking care that the thoughts that come to us while we wait are not destructive but constructive – not negative but expectant of good – is a way to keep us from stagnating. In fact, if waiting involves understanding and trusting in infinite good, God, then it can actually be a powerful and healing activity. This has been proved to be true countless times throughout the Bible.

The story of Moses leading the Israelites out of the slavery of Egypt and into wilderness for 40 years is a clear example of the difference between just waiting for something to happen and acknowledging the ever-presence of good from God. Throughout their journey, when they waited on material circumstances to change, their progress was stalled. When they waited on God, actively praying to Him as the caring Father, they found food to sustain them, protection from aggression, and health (see Numbers 20:2-11).

Mary Baker Eddy, Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, understood the power of waiting expectantly on God, our Father-Mother Love. She wrote, “Never ask for tomorrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment. What a glorious inheritance is given to us through the understanding of omnipresent Love! More we cannot ask: more we do not want: more we cannot have. This sweet assurance is the ‘Peace, be still’ to all human fears, to suffering of every sort” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896” p. 307).

Waiting by actively recognizing the present power of God as Love was something I began to grasp many years ago. I found myself waiting for my house to sell. At the time the market was not considered a seller’s market, and we were holding onto the house long past its usefulness for us. Though we moved to another state, this house was dragging on us in many ways. I was just waiting for someone to come along and buy it. Then early one morning I asked myself, “What does waiting mean to me? What am I waiting on or for?”

In Christian Science I learned that Christ Jesus’ prayers were not praying to God and then waiting for things to change. His instantaneous healings of disease and sin show that, as Mrs. Eddy explained, “He demanded a change of consciousness and evidence, and effected this change through the higher laws of God. The palsied hand moved, despite the boastful sense of physical law and order” (“Unity of Good,” p. 11). Further on in this same article she wrote, “Jesus required neither cycles of time nor thought in order to mature fitness for perfection and its possibilities. He said that the kingdom of heaven is here, and is included in Mind; that while ye say, There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest, I say, Look up, not down, for your fields are already white for the harvest; and gather the harvest by mental, not material processes” (pp. 11, 12).

I realized that in being resigned to a slow market, I was doubting the omnipotence of divine Love. At that same moment I made a distinct effort to change the way I was thinking about the situation. I thought about what Jesus taught – that the kingdom of heaven is here, always ready to be understood and its harmony proved. My waiting was no longer about selling a house; it was a joyous activity of learning more about God and of my relationship to divine Love which meets my every need. My fears were dissolved with the “Peace, be still.” I began to understand God as the universal creator, sustaining His creation through balance and harmony. Within His universal goodness, home as a shelter and place of comfort is constantly accessible to all of His children. I expanded my prayerful waiting to embrace the fact that everyone is in the constant love and care of God.

Later that same day, my real estate agent called and said, “I don’t know what you are doing but four different people wanted to see your house today and one of them has put in an offer.” We accepted and were happy to see a young family love our house as much as we had.

But much more than selling the house, I saw a little more deeply into the demand to wait on God. Waiting is an opportunity to turn our thoughts and prayers to what is true: God is infinite Love and each of us is under His perfect care.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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