It was my first week in my dream school. I was no longer a Secondary Four student in a girls’ school, but one of the new J1s at junior college (JC). I felt nervous and lost, wondering, “Will I be happy here? Who will I make new friends with? Ooh … that guy looks cute! Is he looking at me? The school workload seems stressful … am I good enough to do well in my studies?”
After an orientation where we rolled in the mud during war games, learned mass dances, and bonded over a campfire, I started to like being in this school. The initial fears I had about transitioning to JC life disappeared. I began to feel like I belonged, and I was happy with the way things were. I wished nothing would ever change.
But the dreaded day came when we received our ‘O’ level results. Back then, there were two intakes for students, one in January that was based on our preliminary exam results, and another in March based on our ‘O’ level results. Even though I got a number of ‘A’s, it wasn’t enough to stay in the Science stream. I was crushed. Where would I go? To a new school and start all over again? I battled with anxiety and disappointment, wondering why things had to change again. The move from secondary school to JC was already difficult, and now I may have to change school again. The tears couldn’t stop coming.
If there’s anyone who understands the challenges of transition, it’s Joseph. He went through many rough transitions as a young person. His whole world changed when his brothers ganged up on him and sold him into slavery. He was trafficked to Egypt, sold to one of Pharaoh’s officials, and later thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Even though these unexpected and painful transitions happened, Joseph didn’t lose faith but had the confidence to face them because God was with him through it all. Genesis 39:23 tells us that “the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”
This phrasing is also found in an earlier verse — Genesis 39:3. This repeated emphasis on God’s presence highlights the fact that Joseph was never alone to deal with the difficult transitions. In fact, wherever Joseph went, people recognised that God was with him and that God’s favour was on him. That was why Joseph was in charge of overseeing his master’s household and the prisoners even though he was a foreigner. Although things changed, God remained, taking care of Joseph and blessing him with His presence.
If I could turn back time, I’d tell my 17-year-old self not to be afraid of a new season because God’s presence is always with me. No matter which school I go to, whoever my friends are, and whichever course I study, I can be confident that God remains and He is with me through unexpected changes.
I eventually stayed in my dream school, got posted to a new class in the Arts stream, and grew to love studying Literature. It was God’s faithful presence that helped me through those times of change.
No matter what transitions we go through, let’s find the courage to journey through them, not because of our own wisdom and abilities, but because God is with us.