Unexpected But Never Disappointing

When Dad got sick, my only prayer was this: “God, please heal my Dad. I can’t go on without him.” And I was right. After Dad’s death, all I wanted to do was give up. I didn’t know how to pick myself up from the pain I felt. I cried to God for strength day and night but it didn’t seem to make any difference – I was still hurting.

Before all this, since my grandfather died, I was already struggling with school. I couldn’t make myself study as much as I used to. In fact, I failed more exams this year than all the past exams I failed from grade school to college combined.

God knows how many times I felt like quitting, but every single time I was about to, He proves to me that He is my strength. I watched Him sustain me every single day, and every Sabbath I looked back and asked myself, “How did I make it through another week?”

Yet, here I am, finishing off the semester, having no one else to praise but God alone.

I remember praying this at the start of my 2nd year: “God, I don’t want to waste another year in pursuit of my dreams alone. I want to experience you this school year like never before.” And I did. As much as death and pain became so real to me, so did God. How I wish I could put into words how real God is to me right now!

God is a personal God. He hears our prayers, and He knows just what we need. He may not answer the way we expect Him to, but I tell you, He never disappoints. When I spoke that in prayer, all I wanted was consistency in my Bible study and prayer life, but God gave me so much more than that – He gave me a testimony to share.

The Bible says,

“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” [2 Corinthians 12:9,10]

Our weakness is God’s avenue to reveal His power in us that, as it written, he who glories, may glory in the Lord. My failures made me feel inadequate, but just when I realized my nothingness, that’s when I fully understood the magnitude of God’s strength and witnessed His mighty deliverance.

God is so good, and I don’t know any other way say it. His goodness overwhelms me, and I can’t help but share it.

Sabbath Reflection – Leaving Everything in God’s Hands

This week I found myself troubled by deadlines and exams. I have to admit I lost my peace along the way. I know why: it’s because I hate feeling incapable. I hate not being in control. I hate feeling lost. I hate it when I can’t speak up for myself.

I was writing on my journal about all these frustrations when I realized my burden was too heavy because I was carrying it on my own. After writing, a friend called and asked me how I was doing and what’s going on with my life this week. The first thing I thought of was the sick friend whom I was praying for and I was telling him to pray for her, too. As I was still talking about this friend, he asked me, “How about you? How are you?” I paused for a moment because I felt like it was God asking me. The question felt more like, “No, Hillary, I know what you’re going through. Tell me the truth.” So I told him what was bothering me, and he prayed for me. And you know what, I felt a lot better after that. All of a sudden, peace came rushing in me.

That friend didn’t know I needed a prayer. I didn’t even know that was all I needed. But God knew what I needed, when I needed it.

I’m amazed every single time God proves to me that He knows what I’m going through. And it doesn’t end there. He not only knows, but He also cares. He answers our prayers even before we utter a word. God doesn’t want us to carry our own burden. He wants us to leave everything in His hands that we may see His hands in everything and glorify Him.

I miss you at the sight of coffee
I miss you as I watch the evening news
I miss sitting beside you doing nothing
I miss our late night talks and your "I love you's"

I miss your stories about your patients
I miss how passionate you were with what you do
I miss your strong, penetrating scent
I miss how it makes me sneeze - achoo...

It’s Love

Earlier today, I was listening to 1 Corinthians 13, which is also called the “Love” chapter. I’ve read it a lot of times in the past so it’s nothing new to me, but these particular verses hit me differently today.

[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:7,8

Someone asked me, “What keeps you going?” I answered him, but deep inside me I knew I’ve been feeling stuck lately. (And no, it’s not because of the quarantine) I feel stuck because I feel like I’m headed nowhere. I find myself in a continuous cycle of being okay and not being okay. It has really been a struggle to get back on track, especially with school. It would’ve been so easy to walk away and leave everything behind. It’s probably the easiest way out right now.

But here I am, trying to finish one page of a thousand-paged medical book in an hour. It may not be my ideal pace, but I choose to try over and over again until I get better at it. “Why,” you may ask. Because it is God’s love that sustains me. It is His love that makes me bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.

I Know Whom I Believe

When I was younger, I thought people only prayed for the big things – life-changing decisions and things beyond their control.

But one night in college, I was supposed to prepare an index card for a certain class the next day, and I couldn’t find one in my dorm room. I just transferred and I didn’t know anyone in school, so I couldn’t ask from them. I tried to look everywhere thinking I might find one somewhere, but to no avail. I started to get worked up because of that, so I decided to stop and pray about it. I don’t exactly remember what I prayed for, but I’m sure I prayed for an index card.

The next morning, I woke up at around 4am to prepare for the morning worship at 5. Somehow I grabbed an old notebook from my desk, and as I flipped through the pages, something fell on the floor. The lights were pretty dim because my roommates were still asleep, so I blindly reached out for it. I moved my desk light over it, and to my surprise, it was an index card — in the perfect size and color.

I couldn’t tell you how happy I was that time. No one else saw it happen, but it was so real to me that it felt like God was beside me that morning.

Looking back, I couldn’t believe that God answered that simple prayer. I mean, that was an index card! I wouldn’t have failed my class for not having it, but He provided for me. Either it was just there and I didn’t know, or God slipped it in there in my sleep, it doesn’t really matter. From then on, I told myself I would pray for the smallest things in life.

That experience changed my attitude towards prayer. I learned to pray for everything.

When Dad died, I asked God, “Why did You hear my prayer for the index card, but not Dad’s healing when Dad’s more important to me?” I didn’t understand. (And I still don’t.) But I also knew in my heart that He knows what’s best. I did ask Him why (in fact, for too many times), but I could never question His goodness to me.

Our prayers may not always be answered the way we want God to answer them, but it doesn’t mean He stopped being faithful. It doesn’t mean God is not love. It doesn’t mean He is not good.

When we have a strong foundation of who God is for us, then whatever happens, our faith will not fail. Circumstances may change our feelings, but our faith in God should be constant.

I was hurt and I was in pain, but I know whom I believe, and He has never failed.

“My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

On the Verge of Giving Up

No one knows how many times I thought of quitting med school this year.

My 2nd year into Medicine started really bad. I lost my grandfather just when classes started last August. It was hard to get over with because it was my first experience with death. As Mom would say it, “Death never seemed so be real as it is now.”

Few months after, I thought I was doing well with coping. During the holidays, I realized that I was just used to not seeing my grandfather a lot, but I haven’t grasped the reality that I won’t see him ever again.

Looking back, I never really got back on track since my grandfather’s death. I haven’t really been studying like I used to. I’ve taken exams of which coverage I didn’t finish reading. I even had exams I didn’t study for at all, and if you know me well, you’d know I never do that.

I tried not to be hard on myself, but I got so frustrated because I couldn’t pick myself up this time. I kinda lost myself. I used to plan my week ahead, but now the pages on my planner have been empty. I used to wake up early to read my Bible and study for the day’s classes, but now I’ve been waking up just so that I could make it to school on time. I used to finish everything ahead of time, now I don’t even know the deadlines.

I’ve said to myself a couple of times this year that maybe Medicine was not for me. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a doctor after all.

I was really thinking of giving up. It felt like I wasn’t good enough, and it’s not even about my failed exams. It just felt like everything was not going according to plan, and I don’t feel like myself anymore.

I lost my Dad just a few weeks ago, and it shattered my whole being. He was the first reason why I’m here right now. He inspired me to be a doctor. I don’t know how, I don’t know why but I learned to appreciate what he does without him telling me to follow his footsteps.

Losing my Dad, it felt like a huge part of me went missing, but strangely enough, I found myself again in God, my Heavenly Father – the Father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5).

I’ve seen God’s hands through all these hard times, and I’m always grateful. I’ve seen Him sustain me through rough weeks I couldn’t even imagine getting through. His grace has been more than sufficient for those times when I passed exams I couldn’t study for because I was too troubled. He who promised is faithful, how could I ever give up?

Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls–

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk 3:17,18