Thankfulness and Graduate Exams (Scholar’s Compass)

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:16 -17, NIV


During preparations for my preliminary exams, the cliché “blessing in disguise” seemed like an accurate description of graduate school. Although I knew that graduate school was a gift from God, at the time, it felt like a big mistake. Discouragement and uncertainty camouflaged the blessing completely. When I asked God for a new sense of excitement for my research and assurance that I could succeed, He gave me a gentle reminder that graduate school is not simply a gift – it’s a good gift.

The apostle James’ readers were struggling to recognize God’s gifts too. To unmask their blessings, he pointed them the source of all blessings: their perfect Father. God gives his children good gifts because He is good – without fail. James echoes Jesus’ own words:

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11)

The well-intentioned gifts of our earthly parents cannot compare with the loving gifts of our heavenly Father, who is pure, powerful, and compassionate. When we see life through the lens of God’s fatherly goodness, blessings abound. My advisor is a gift from God. My coursework is a gift from God. Teaching is a gift from God. This was a revelation to my doubting heart. Once the disguise had been stripped from my blessings, they seemed to multiply and my thankfulness to God for his generosity increased.


Are you thankful for the many ways that God has blessed your research, teaching, and other professional responsibilities? Praise Him for His generosity and expect His continued kindness.


Father, you are the source of all that is good and perfect. Thank you for leading me to this university. Thank you for my research. Thank you for my students and colleagues. You provided this career out of your goodness and perfection. Fill me with thankfulness for all of your gifts, and especially for the gift of salvation through Christ. In His name, Amen.

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Bethany Bowen-Wefuan

Bethany Bowen-Wefuan is a PhD student in German Studies at the Carolina-Duke German Studies Program. In addition to studying 19th century German literature and teaching, she spends most of her time with friends, family, and her sweet husband Dieter.

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