Waiting for it to be over, or waiting on God?
When difficult circumstances arise, it can sometimes feel as if our only option is to passively wait things out. But an active alertness to inspiration from God brings strength, solutions, and joy, as a teacher experienced after feeling overwhelmed by the logistics of teaching during the pandemic.
Like that of many others, my experience of the pandemic was often one of “waiting for this to be over.” I am a high school teacher, and from March 2020 until April 2021, I was at home, teaching remotely and wondering how I could possibly keep going. I longed to see my students in person, but when the time came that we were asked to go back to school, it was to teach a hybrid model, whereby I would have some students sitting in the room and others joining the class remotely.
This seemed impossibly hard. I wanted to run away to some remote place and wait for it all to be over.
There are many experiences in life that seem to require hunkering down and waiting something out. Yet, one of Jesus’ healings demonstrates beautifully a vastly more hopeful kind of waiting.
The Bible tells of a pool called Bethesda surrounded by porches where sick or injured people would wait, as it was believed that entering the pool right after the water was “troubled” brought healing. One man had been there 38 years. When Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed, the man responded with an explanation of why such a thing was probably impossible: “Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.”
Clearly, this version of waiting wasn’t helping him. But Jesus, with his unparalleled understanding of God, divine Life, lifted the concept of waiting to something entirely different. Psalm 62 may describe what Jesus was doing as he spoke with this man: “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him” (verse 5). It seems clear that Jesus was fully attentive to what God was telling him about the man. And something transformative happened. The Christ view woke the man to the present possibility of a whole new life. Indeed, he was healed right then and there.
Jesus’ waiting on God constituted a vibrant, perpetual realization of the totally good nature of God and of everyone as God’s loved, whole, entirely spiritual children – never disabled or hopeless but always full of vigor, capable of attending with great joy and interest to the goodness that God is giving us each moment.
I saw that for me, too, it was time to stop passively waiting and to truly wait on God. Daily, I did my best to turn away from uncertainties about how I would do my job and to ask humbly, “Father-Mother, how can I serve You best?” After much prayer, I felt I was ready.
The day that I was to return to school, I woke with a terrible pain in my back. As I drove to school, I listened to that week’s Bible Lesson from the “Christian Science Quarterly.” One word stood out to me: “rejoice.”
At first, that seemed ridiculous. All I was hoping for was to get through the day – to wait it out. But suddenly I saw that regardless of circumstances, we can rejoice in the actual, present power of the Love that is God.
So I did. On that day, this idea of waiting came fully alive to me: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). The pain in my back lessened by the next day, and within a few days I was completely healed.
Jesus’ devoted follower Mary Baker Eddy also thought of waiting as a profoundly active spiritual endeavor. In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” she writes: “Beholding the infinite tasks of truth, we pause, – wait on God. Then we push onward, until boundless thought walks enraptured, and conception unconfined is winged to reach the divine glory” (p. 323).
Waiting on God can be a moment-by-moment lifting of thought. As I did that to the best of my ability in those last weeks of the school year, I found many blessed moments of “conception unconfined” – moments when I looked at a student and all I could see was love and beauty, moments when I was planning a lesson and found suddenly that I knew exactly the right thing to do for both the students in the room and those “Zooming in” from home.
Waiting on God, being receptive to the messages of love and wisdom that are always pouring out from God, certainly beats waiting for something to be over.
Adapted from an article published in the March 14, 2022, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.