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Courage for beginning univeristy

Helen Blakey, 18/07/20

What fears are you facing as someone starting University? CUI staff worker Helen Blakey shares thoughts on the process of waiting, and the hope we can have in the One who goes before us.

Courage for beginning univeristy

Will I make good friends?

How will I cope with living away from home?

Have I chosen the right course?

Most Freshers will think about these questions before starting uni. The few months between finishing school and beginning college can be full of excitement or dread. There is waiting and expectation- a sense of adventure and unknowns. Perhaps the uncertainty is even more heightened now. How will Covid affect the new term and uni life? Will I be on campus, or am I resigned to online learning? Should I move to the city where my college is?

Waiting can quickly turn to worry as we try to figure out every detail of life.

I remember patiently waiting the day my A-Level results came out. And by waiting, I mean insisting that my dad drove around the country roads in search of our postman so I could find out where I’d be going to university. I didn’t even want to wait an extra few hours to get the post.

We all experience waiting in life. There are inconsequential times, like being stuck in traffic or waiting for your coffee order. Then, there are significant, life-changing moments of waiting; waiting to find out if you got into university, waiting for hospital results, waiting for resolve in a relationship, waiting for God to answer prayers. If you’re anything like me, waiting in any of these circumstances can be difficult and not something we tend to enjoy.

In the Bible, God’s people are no strangers to waiting. Abraham and Sarah waited for many years for God to give them a child. (Even after a promise from God, Sarah disliked the waiting so much that she took matters into her own hands). Jacob had to wait 14 years to marry the girl of his dreams. The Israelites had to wait for forty years before they were able to enter the promised land. Noah waited for months on a boat before he was able to set foot on dry land. Anna waited almost her entire life to see the fulfilment of God’s promised Messiah. The disciples waited for three days in disappointment and fear after Jesus’ crucifixion.

Psalm 27 contains the command to “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Isn’t it interesting that “Wait” is repeated twice in one sentence? Waiting doesn’t come naturally; it reminds us that we are not in control of everything, and it forces us to be patient and trust God’s work and timing. The Bible talks about waiting patiently, waiting in hope and how it is good to wait on the Lord. Too often, we are more inclined to wait impatiently, without hope and to think that waiting is an awful thing to have to do!

In Psalm 33, waiting and having hope are connected. The basis for this hope is the unchanging character of God- his faithfulness, righteousness, justice, unfailing love, his power in creation and his sovereignty. As God’s people, we can wait in hope, not because we know how everything will turn out but because we know the One who is with us in the waiting loves us and is working all things together in His perfect plan.

Perhaps, instead of allowing this period of waiting to cause you to worry and stress, you could use this time to reflect on God’s character. Spend time in his word and see how good and trustworthy he is. Remind yourself that He is your faithful Father who “knows what you need before you ask him” (Matt. 6.8). Ask God to help you hold on to his promise that He will “never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13.5). Look at the many times in Scripture when God used times of waiting to do incredible things in the lives of his people. In your waiting pray that you “would not be anxious… but the peace of God…would guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4.6-7)

A Prayer for Freshers (from Psalm 33)

As you prepare for September, may you wait in hope for the Lord. He is your help and your shield.

May your heart rejoice in him as you trust in his holy name.

May God’s unfailing love be with you, even in the midst of uncertainty and waiting, as you put your hope in him.