On Christ, Anxiety, and Waiting (in Academia)

More than most of us are willing to admit, the life of an academic and scientist consists of much waiting.

Some do this better than others; I am not, by nature, one of them.

Many times I have been weighted down by the anxiety of waiting: for graduate school acceptance letters, for getting a grant for my research, and for graduate research fellowship funding, etc.

It is now the season of waiting to hearing from graduate schools (the tail end of that), fellowship applications, job search for new graduates, etc. It is lent, too, though I am not of the Catholic tradition.

The following is probably the most personal post I have attempted. I will share how the Holy Spirit ministers to me through the Bible in hopes that it would help minister to you in such seasons. Especially for those of you whom Jesus has called to be a missionary in the scientific fields–the prevalence of Christians in these fields could probably qualify them as unreached people groups! (Perhaps with the exception of physics and mathematics by reputation? But I have no stats, and it is neither here or there.)

These are not trite statements, but came both from seasons of waiting that turned out to be “successful” and “unsuccessful.” Amazing that the Spirit gave me the same comfort prior to both. Humbling too, that He has to do this repeatedly for me [chuckle]. I am the “chief of sinners” and still learning this, repeatedly.

Thoughts and prayers “therapy”

… in the season of waiting, as I currently am

Even shall I receive no more “good things” from the Lord under the sun (recall Ecclesiastes),

  • I have the Father’s promise of redemption
    — Ref… the entire Bible! Alright, start with 1 Peter 1;
  • I have His Son, who cloaks me with His righteousness
    — I?! To be perfect in His eye (Isaiah 61)!
  • I have His Spirit, who is the Helper and the down-payment of our inheritance
    — Me? He is willing lives with me?! Let all humans who know the darkness of a sinner’s thoughts, be astonished that He lives there so as to walk with and minister to us (Roman 8Ephesians 1);
  • I have the hope of the Resurrection (Daniel 12);

Let these things, given through Christ alone and through grace alone, be enough (Colossians 2Philippians 3).

“For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.” (Micah 4)

As long as I…

… I will obtain the career that He wants for me to have: A career that glorifies Him most.
That career might look different from what I thought would glorify Him most.

For He knows more than me, and He is wiser than me. (1 Cor 1:25; sometimes He humbles me through the rest of 1 Cor 1, also). Be that career…

  • Big and/or small;
  • Easy and/or hard;
  • Filled with joy and/or thorns-and-thistles all of its days/weeks/months/years;
  • Surrounded by friends and/or foes;
  • With graduate schools/GRFP’s/this grant or not…

He is still my Lord, my cornerstone, my refuge, my honour. As He becomes my only boast…

My life will be fruitful whether my career is, or is not.
— Jeremiah 17John 15:1-5James 3:13-18Col 1:9-14, etc.

He is still the Sovereign of the Universe

— And the Sovereign of the Universe is my Father.
— I am in good hands.

Tricks from Philippians 2

…don’t be legalistic now!

In addition to focusing on the Lord and our salvation as mentioned above…
– Check your heart for covetousness, check your motivation, repent—what is a Christian’s life but that to constantly repent, forgive, and watch as our lives are redeemed?
– Pray for others. It always helps me put my problems into perspective when slushing into the sorrows/sufferings of the saints and non-Christians.
– Work hard, be above reproach, serve. Not in a legalistic sense. If you did not do so, repent. You should be so busy that you don’t have to to be anxious 😉

“After” thoughts… (literally, after your waiting)

For those whom God does not see fit to provide in the manner you wanted

Read Deuteronomy 8: More on my favourite chapter on the Bible below.

I entreat you, please use this season and this disappointment, to ready your heart for what/how the Lord ends up providing for you. Do not waste your disappointment the same way as those without the same hope as us.

Read Micah 4 (Didn’t see that one coming, did ya?)

1. Check your hope, your cornerstone, your foundation: is it solidly grounded in the epic story you are so honoured to be a part of? (Micah 4:1-5)

2. There is a day coming… (Micah 4:6-8)

3. From whence does it say the Lord will rescue you? In your exile. (Micah 4:9-10)

In whom lies you trust? Your kings/boss/committee?

A Christian’s entire life is in exile—this is not home, you are in enemy territory; you are bound to be disappointed! It hurts, but even in our disappointments look to the Lamb!

4. Do your enemies mock? Those physical and those spiritual? Are there audible and inaudible flaming darts? (Micah 4:11-12)

“Now many nations are assembled against you, saying, ‘Let her be defiled, and let our eyes gaze upon Zion.’ But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them as sheaves to the threshing floor.”

5. What do we do with our lives until “that day”? What awaits us there? (Micah 4:13)

“Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion, for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hoofs bronze; you shall beat in pieces many peoples; and shall devote their gain to the LORD, their wealth to the Lord of the whole earth.”

6. When, when, when, Father? (Micah 4:12)

“But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD” Neither do you.

Read 1 Peter:  Yeah yeah, it sounds great on paper. How to USE our disappointments? Or more accurately, how should we use our lives?

  • Christians live differently as elected exiles, our citizenships are not of this world.
    — We hope differently, anticipate differently, cry differently, laugh differently, suffer differently, enjoy differently, love differently, deal with our enemies differently.
  • This is, as everything else in life, an opportunity to show those around the difference Christ made in your life.
  •  I am serious. Get to work.

For those who obtain what they waited for:

Read (no, bury yourself in) Deuteronomy 8

After the wilderness/desert of your waiting, the promise land is not just happy-o-joy-forever: You work, and you remember your God.

1. Why the Lord your God brought you through this wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:1-6):

“The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers.

And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him.”

2. You work, work your bottom off (Deuteronomy 8:7-10):

“For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land,

  • a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills,
         — You are aware, that they did not have indoor plumbing? They had to gather from these water sources.
  • a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey,
         — They must labour for all these, too, obviously. They must cultivate and harvest.
  • a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing,
         — There weren’t any tree of bread, either.
  • a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper.
         — I rest my case.

And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.”

3. Remember the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 8:11-18):

“Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today,

lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied,

then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God,

who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.

Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”

4. Else He who brought you into this promise land can similarly take you out of it. Out of love, He will humble you, or even destroy you, in order to pursue your heart and your soul (Deuteronomy 8:19-20).

“And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.”

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