It never made sense to me why many stories in the Bible always revolved around battles. Surely, God wasn’t advocating war? Furthermore, how would stories of combat, rocks and slings find its way into our daily lives today?

Although if I’m honest, as a boy, I would have loved to live a life that was full of those adventures. Disappointingly, I’m just a regular Singaporean student, sitting for his O-Levels in slightly less than two weeks from now and finding myself in a different kind of battle.

I’ve never been a very bright student – my grades always placed me at the bottom of my class. 

Mentally, I wasn’t strong too: I was constantly breaking down, crying, overthinking, lost in anxiety, fear… you name it, I’ve gone through it. I always felt loneliness and hopelessness, yet ironically I would still be in church every Saturday evening, oblivious to the answer standing right in front of me.

I didn’t take my faith very seriously. I would attend church every week, become “holy” on Saturday and then snap back into reality on other days. 

Then one day, it finally dawned upon me. I was in the midst of yet another emotional breakdown, but this time I felt an urge to pray, to bow down in reverence before God and ask Him for assurance and strength. Though not instantly, I finally found peace after two whole months of constant battling in my mind.

It took me some time to figure things out, and I was lucky enough to have a good pillar of support from both friends and schoolmates who cared about my well-being. With them, I also felt a sense of togetherness – we were all in the same fight for our exams.

It was also during this time that I started to re-evaluate my motivations to study and the manner in which I would usually approach my studies. In spite of my lack of effort, I always felt that God would be proud of my work and that He would sufficiently provide for me. Yet when I looked at Scripture, while it is true that God will provide, I realised that we should also be doing all things in the name of God (Colossians 3:17). 

We may think that it is our good scores that will ultimately bring glory to God – so that when non-believers see us, they will see how smart we are and think that if they come to faith, God will probably do the same for them as well.

But is this really true? I took a step back and wondered about how our studies could really bring glory to God.

Just like how God worked hard during the first six days of creation, we should also work hard. But instead of making grades our ultimate goal, what about seeking progress in our lives to gain knowledge and wisdom so that we can use our work to contribute to God’s Kingdom?

So what does this mean in the midst of all our mugging? Perhaps it’s time to evaluate how our work glorifies God.

We may often find ourselves questioning if God really has a plan for us and whether we are sufficiently prepared for our exams. But let’s remember to trust God in the midst of our preparations.  

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7)

This was what God commanded Joshua when he first took over command from Moses. Joshua was like us: He was also afraid of the upcoming challenges that lay ahead, yet he chose to obey God’s Word, to be “very courageous” (note the word “very”!). Joshua would later on succeed in commanding the people of Israel in several battles against other nations, many bigger and much stronger than the nation of Israel.

Similarly, this time of O-Levels may bring fear and uncertainty, but know that through this fight, you are not alone. God will always be with you – all you have to do is to have courage. I know you may be thinking “yeah, easy to say!” That was my initial reaction as well, but it takes a while for courage to come, so continue to be reminded!

Going through this journey has strengthened my walk with Jesus. Knowing that Jesus has allowed us to have an unhindered relationship with God, we can be assured that God will always be with us in this time of battle. Though we may fear, God can give us faith. 

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)

Two weeks from now, I will be sitting for my first written paper, and so will many of you. Let’s continue working hard and pressing on for this is the work God has commanded us to do.

Let’s not fixate on our L1R5 score when we can already glorify God through the hard work we put in every day. We can also trust that God will surely provide for us.

  1. Do you get exam anxiety? How do you cope with it?
  2. What does it mean to have faith when you’re faced with fears?
  3. How can you glorify God in your studies/work?