“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14
As academics, we are frequently waiting. In graduate school, we wait in hallways to learn if we passed our defenses. On the job market, we wait to hear from departments that, like our high school crushes, all too often do not call. As junior faculty members, we wait to learn if we will be promoted to tenure. At all career stages, we wait to learn if we received the grant, if our article will be published, if our paper has been accepted to the conference, if our new course has been approved. Often we are waiting for others to judge our work, and it usually appears as though these others hold our future in their hands.
But we, as Christians, know that our futures are in the hands of God. John 10:29 makes it clear that “no one is able to snatch them [us sheep] out of the Father’s hand.” Yet, despite this knowledge, we are often anxious about what our tomorrows will bring. Like the original disciples, we are worried about what we perceive to be our immediate needs (see Matthew 6), and this worry points to our actual problem. We have too small a view of God; we lack faith. We acknowledge that God is sovereign, yet we fear others more than him. We are often more concerned about how our committee chairs, department chairs, and peer reviewers will judge us than we are about pursuing the righteousness of God.
When we begin to celebrate God’s sovereignty and develop a right view of his control, we can approach waiting in a much different spirit. Our waiting becomes a time of fruitfulness as our reliance on God grows and our faith deepens. The waiting that we do in academia points to the waiting that we do as Christians. James 5:7-8 instructs us to “Be patient…until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it…” We can think about James as telling us to wait for the coming of the Lord as the academic waits to hear from the journal editor. Our careers are in the hands of the Lord, just as our eternal futures are. And this is a reason for hope. In Psalm 63:8, the Psalmist declares “I cling to you; your right hand upholds me” and we can declare the same by the character of our waiting.
- What is it that you are currently waiting to happen in your career? Why does this mean so much to you? What opportunities might this create for you to serve God?
- What does your approach toward waiting reveal about your faith in God?
Father, you, and you alone, are sovereign. Let this truth about your character sink deep into our hearts and free us from our illogical worry and anxiety about our future. Increase our faith Lord, so that we can wait patiently to see what you, in your grace and mercy, will do next.
Note: Part of the Scholar’s Compass series.
About the author:
Summar C. Sparks holds a PhD from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She recently defended her dissertation, “Bound by Paper: Nineteenth-Century Southern Editors and Their Northern Connections.” Dr. Sparks has experience as an assistant editor for College English and is now on staff with Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers. She also lectures in English and Media Studies at Bentley University.