I Cried Through My Chemistry Papers

Issue 40  //  ·  · 

People often say, “Study hard and you’ll get somewhere.” I studied hard, but I wasn’t sure where I was going.

After my O levels, I prayed, “If you have a particular school you’d want me to go to, I’d go!” The night before the Joint Admissions Exercise (JAE) submissions, I felt God leading me to a Christian school through Matthew 5:13-15 (I later realised that it was the school’s chapel theme verse for the year). I had only known of the school 2 days before, and didn’t know anyone from there, but I decided to trust His leading.

On the first day of school, the devotion was on Matthew 5:13-15, the very verses that had led me there! I found myself holding back my tears in my Chemistry class as I felt the Lord’s reassurance that I had made the right choice. Deep down, I had struggled to honour my parents who wanted me to take Chemistry over History (my favourite subject then). It was not after many tearful prayers, that I felt that God was leading me to honour my parents in the decision.

The journey was far from easy — my results were lower than average, my laptop crashed three days before my final presentation, and I had to undergo surgery for a torn ligament just before the prelim exams. With each test, I grew even more discouraged. Often, I retreated to cry in the toilet or in the comforts of my quiet time at home.

Once, a Chemistry teacher wrote our names in four columns on the whiteboard. She pointed to the last column (where my name was) and remarked that we should pull up our socks. If not, we would get a grade of 5 (IB grades being ranked 1-7). I was crushed.

Still, the Lord tenderly sustained me. Before every paper I would get on my knees to pray — confessing my dependence and surrendering my results to Him.

The day the results were released, I prayed with my group of friends — “If any of us attains 45 points (the perfect score), we would count all this as loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord.” Perhaps God had directed me to pray this because I soon received my results with a perfect score of 45, with the highest possible grade for Chemistry! I was stunned. My teachers and my friends who had known my struggle rejoiced with me. This time, it was tears of gratitude that welled up in my eyes, as I remembered the hymn we had been singing in Chapel — “In every victory, let it be said of me, my source of strength, my source of hope, is Christ alone.”

After the examination, God led me through many encounters with James 1:27 at various camps and services to take a gap year to discover His heart for the widows and orphans through missions. Once again, I had to make the difficult decision to trust His leading.

Then, I hadn’t decided on what to major in University. At the start of my gap year, I felt the word ‘ship’ impressed on my heart. Soon, a conversation with a friend would unexpectedly open the door to a medical ship ministry. That experience as a volunteer intern significantly shaped my decision to study Medicine as I felt drawn to missions in the healthcare sector.

Looking back, from choosing Chemistry to a gap year and then Medicine, I see how God established my steps beautifully in His time, even in the area of studies. And while medical school isn’t the easiest, I know this is where I’m supposed to be!

Kalista Wan
Kalista is currently a medical student in NUS. She loves bread of all forms, shapes, and sizes, but the one she absolutely cannot live without is the Bread of Life.