Why I Study Medicine: Motivation, Meaning and Exams

I wanted out of medicine.

I recently returned to university, but my mind was elsewhere. After weeks of grieving, it’s a surreal feeling to go back to normality. Classes, lectures, homework. Exams imminent and the need to catch up on weeks of medical topics I’ve missed (though I know God will get me through exams as in previous years).

Still, my spirit protested. I wanted to give up. My heart was absolutely empty of motivation. Despite the flurry of revision-related activity around me at medical school, my own textbooks remained neglected. Sitting in classes, I couldn’t concentrate – exams just weren’t foremost in my mind.

I think this is what death does to you. Changes your perspective so violently that everything in your life is thrown into question: What exactly am I doing here in medicine? Why am I here learning about antibiotics and bacteria and fractures? Is this where you really want me God?

My recent bereavement has shown me life is short and fickle. King Solomon said,  “Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labour that he can carry in his hand(Ecclesiastes 5:15). Knowing this, I asked God – if we take nothing of the physical into the next life, why am I investing hundreds of hours (and no doubt eventually thousands of hours) into pursuing medical knowledge instead of you? Wouldn’t all my hours be better spent pursuing you – my Father, my God?

Man Contemplating

A Life That’s Worthy

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate medicine. More and more, I am discovering ways to glorify God in medicine. But often, I feel like I’m trudging and grinding my way through the course. Simply put, medicine pales in comparison to the joy I get from spending my days talking to God whilst exploring mountains, from talking to people about God, from reading The Bible, from making music to God, from witnessing God powerfully transforming my own life and the lives of others.

My passion is not fame and fortune, dazzling discoveries or a comfortable home and family. My passion is to live a life like the Apostle Paul, who said: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1). I want to live an extraordinary life! A life that’s a unique story about the beauty, love and glory of God, in which I am merely a character. I want to live a life like those in The Bible, who saw the glory of God in ways that no one else experienced. After Moses, no one else ever saw God appear in a burning bush (Exodus 3:1-5). Apart from Joshua, no one else ever saw God stop the sun from revolving around the Earth (Joshua 10:13). Experiencing God has been my absolute joy. Witnessing firsthand the goodness and glory of the Lord in our lives on earth – isn’t this what King David was living for? (Psalm 27:4).  I want every area of my life to be stamped by the testimony of Job, who said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:5).

Wrestling With God

Because of these dreams, I am increasingly dissatisfied with the medical student status quo of striving, stress and study. In the repetitive cycle of hard work amongst mundane lectures, I ask myself – what am I even working towards? The Bible says God’s kingdom is forcefully advancing, but how does medicine fit into that? (Matthew 11:12)

So for two weeks, I really wrestled with God. Struggled, reasoned and searched The Bible. Cried out and questioned.

*                   *                   *

And God showed up. Not all at once, but every day or two I would receive something new about God’s ways, purposes and intentions in putting us on a journey. Thank God! For he does what he promises:

and if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom,
and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

(Proverbs 2:3-6)

In the rest of this post, I have written the questions I have struggled with (in bold) and the realisations that have motivated me to keep going in my journey. I write this as a memorial to myself – writings to encourage me to continue going where God has put me and never give up. My prayer is that they may also encourage you on some level, no matter what study, job or journey you are currently embarked upon!

Sun and Forest

Questions for God about My Journey

Why did you choose me for medicine? I am by no means the smartest, the most confident, the most effusive, nor the most passionate in this course. I really don’t know how who I am fits into where you’ve put me.

Normal people pursue what they are good at. But this is not how God works. Where God has placed you has absolutely nothing to do with your strengths, skills or attributes. God chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chooses the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chooses the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not —to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)

God has called you to a journey where you are weak and out of your comfort zone. Your life isn’t going to be easy. There will be trouble (John 16:33). But every step forward you make leaning on God in utter dependence, in spite of  your weakness, is beautiful to God and bears much fruit. (2 Corinthians 12:9, John 15:5) So delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when you are weak, the strength of Christ bursts forth in you (2 Corinthians 12:10).

How is God going to use me as a doctor to further his kingdom?

Just because you are in medicine, doesn’t mean God will use you forever as a doctor (or even at all)! The Apostle Paul was trained as a Pharisee, but he had no idea at the time that God would use him one day as a missionary for Jesus. David was a shepherd, and it must have seemed unbelievable that one day he would be King of Israel. God raised up spiritual leaders from fisherman (Peter, John), men of God from farmers (Gideon, Elisha) and servant writers from doctors (Luke). God’s own Son rose from the humble beginnings of a carpenter. Like these men, God’s plan for you is bigger than your career.

Do not logically deduce how God is going to use you based on how you are being trained, what you are studying, where you are working. We need to trust God even when we don’t know what the outcomes of our journey will be, or how they fit into God’s plan. For:

“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him”

(1 Corinthians 2:9)

You have no idea how great the plans are for your life. You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:14). You have no idea how God plans to use you in the future, irrespective of where you are now.

Plant shoot

If God’s calling for us is bigger than our careers, why doesn’t God just cut to the chase and send me to wherever my destiny lies? How does me getting a medical degree fit into the scheme of things?

Society looks at the outcomes of things for meaning. But the outcome of your current journey (eg. study/training/occupation) may have absolutely nothing to do with what God has planned for you and the calling he has for you. However, how he is revealing himself to you, growing you and partnering with you on that journey has everything to do with what he has planned for you.

So instead of looking for meaning from what will come in the future, look to what God is doing in your life right now. Today. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Mt 6:34)

How can I work at this with effort if I might not even end up using these skills as a practicing doctor?

Work not for tutors, teachers, colleagues, or your own pride or aims. But work as one working for God himself – with the intent of pleasing him with your determination and sacrifice, rather than the intent of achieving tangible outcomes. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)

Winding road

Why have you chosen me for such a long and difficult journey in medicine?

This is who God is – his name is ‘I AM WHO I AM’ (Exodus 3:14). He chooses whoever he desires to choose and he has chosen you, specifically, for a purpose.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last…

(John 15:16)

So never give up, for he is with you always (Matthew 28:20).

Isn’t there something more important I could be doing for your kingdom?

No matter how ordinary your journey may seem at times, you can still do something of utmost significance to God: worshiping him! Choose to live like Mary, who extravagantly loved Jesus in a way that will be remembered for all of history. No matter where you are, who you are or how little time you have, you have the opportunity every day to extravagantly worship Jesus. What Mary did was behind the scenes in an inconspicuous Jewish house, yet it absolutely moved the heart of the creator of the universe. Do not always focus on doing things. Your relationship with God means far more to him than what you can do for him. (Matthew 7:22-23)

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

(Matthew 22:37-38)

Jar of perfume

Extravagant worship: Mary poured out a jar of perfume on the feet of Jesus. The perfume cost a whole year’s wages. Then Jesus said: ‘Wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’ (Mark 14:3-9)

*                   *                   * 


So all of this has changed my heart. I look back at the past weeks and see how good God is, even in tough times. God knows when the journey is too much for us. He doesn’t force us to keep going in our own strength, but does what it takes to strengthen us! As I wrestled with him on bus rides, in conversations and in prayers morning and night, he spoke to my spirit.

He saw how desperate I was and strengthened me with the understanding I needed to go onwards. God knows when we’ve reached our capacity. He doesn’t force us to go onwards like a slave-driver. Instead, he recognises our despair and strengthens us, saying, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you!” (1 Kings 19:3-8).

So I’ve gotten up. For the next 2 weeks, I walk towards my exams to complete the task God has set for me. I walk onwards through hard times, just as Elijah did in Biblical times: So [Elijah] got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he travelled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

And now to hit the books!

65 thoughts on “Why I Study Medicine: Motivation, Meaning and Exams

  1. Thank-you for your always inspiring posts Nathan, what a wonderful way to look at something I think many Christians struggle with, those are the words I need to read every now and again to keep myself going in med.

  2. I am crying with tears of joy and understanding at this moment. I have been feeling the same way on my accounting and finance course, asking God why he has put me on this course as I Remember specifically him telling me what to study knowing for so many years maths had been my weakness. You have given me a new understanding of Phillipians 4:13…Thank you…and may the God of our salvation continue ot bless and keep you and strengthen you always in Jesus name.

    • Apologies for this delayed reply – but thank you so much for sharing part of your testimony! It moves me that you are moved by the Lord and his word. Truly. May Philippians 4:13 dwell richly in your heart and keep you going in your course. He uses everything. Peace !

      • I am moving to a new country and I was in a dilemma to prepare for my Pharmacist license exam or change my field with alternative jobs. Your blog helped me out with Bible verses and gave me encouragement to pursue what God wants me to be.

  3. thank you so much for the enlightenment and motivation. its as if whatever you write about somehow mirrors my exact situation of doubt and worry . its soothing to know that god will always be with you.

    • I’m glad that God has encouraged both of us on similar journeys! We are never alone in our doubt and worries – you’re right – God will always be with you. Resist the devil who wants to keep us in doubt and worry, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings (1 Peter 5:9)! Peace to you !

  4. This is my exact same story. I was not even on Google to to search for a blog that explains my whole life, I just wanted to know if God answers prayers. And there he brought to me your articles that just give the questions of my exact life…and now I have the answers. Can you believe that I am a Med student. I was on the verge of calling it quits, but because of you, I won’t. Thank you!! God bless you!!

    • That is incredible. Thanks so much for writing and letting me know! That encourages me so much as well to see how God is working. I pray that the Lord would continue to direct your paths and that you would always know he is with you every step of the way in medicine. Continue to trust in him, and I am positive he will make you a fantastic doctor. Peace upon you -N

  5. Nathan, thank you for that post. It was, in fact, inspirational to me. I’ve been struggling for the past 6 months, trying to decide what future to decide on: medicine or nursing. Both offer great capacities to live for Christ and share the love of Christ, however, I feel at odds with each for various reasons. On one hand (i.e. nursing) a shorter training period, and perhaps an easier lifestyle. In the other hand, medicine is far more training, stress, and likely a more rigorous lifestyle. I was wondering if you could offer some biblical insight into how you chose to move forward with this venture? It would be much appreciated!

    God bless you and keep you!
    – Luke

    • Hi Luke, thanks for your encouragement! I’m always filled with joy and humbled that these posts can help others.
      My story has been somewhat atypical. I wasn’t a Christian when I was accepted into medical school, so regrettably, I didn’t approach my choice of study in consultation with God. Truth be told, I had no idea what I wanted to do at that time in my life and simply gave medicine a go because I didn’t know what else to try. I figured I could just quit if I hated it. I was very foolhardy and made decisions without God because I did not know him.

      Since then however, I can share about how I’ve tried to navigate other decisions that have come up along the way so far after coming to know Christ. Since becoming a Christian, for example, I have often asked myself like 1) God, is medicine really the place for me? Could I be better serving your kingdom as a teacher, or a pastor, or a musician etc? 2) God, if medicine is for me, which specialty is for me? Medicine? Surgery? Psychiatry? Radiology?

      With such questions, one of the bible passages that has helped me is the famous Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” As I have prayed those above questions to God, I have been more and more convicted of the path that God has put me on. It didn’t happen overnight (though I’m sure it has for some people) and has been a process of wrestling with God about them. Though my heart sometimes still wonders whether I should be somewhere else right now, in prayer I seem to always reach the conclusion that studying medicine is where God wants me right now. I believe that as we pray, pray and pray some more, God will show us the path that we have to walk today and in the immediate future in line with his Word in Proverbs 3:5. I don’t think he always reveals the full extent of his plan all the time – and I am yet to be convinced of whether I will even use my medical degree as a practicing doctor (who knows where he will tell me to go once I’ve finished my degree!) – but I trust in what he is assigning me today.

      So I encourage you to keep praying, asking him to reveal which path for you to take, patiently waiting for him to reveal his will in your spirit. Psalm 27:14 says “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” I see your desire to “live for Christ and share the love of Christ.” That is fantastic. He has given you such desires for a reason. Give those desires to God and ask him to take you into the path that would best satisfy those desires! Psalm 37:4 says “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Choosing nursing vs medicine and which is right for you at this time in your life is a question far beyond human wisdom and it is God who knows best how to satisfy the desires he designed and created in you.

      All these things are things I pray regularly and I hope will help. They are not revolutionary new ideas – but I believe they are biblical. In summary – pray, pray, pray! Be patient, persevere in the tension of waiting for an answer. And give your desires for a fulfilling and meaningful and Christ-testifying life to him, and he will lead you as you submit your paths to him.

      I’ll be praying for you with a prayer that Paul prayed in Colossians 1:9-10 and hope that it will be on your lips too!
      “We continually ask God to fill Luke with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that Luke may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way”

      Secondarily, it would also be wise to develop a good idea about what doctors and nurses do each day (which you may very well have done already!) – talk to any nurses or doctors you know, maybe follow one around for a day or two if possible (especially if they are Christians!). As you investigate further (if you haven’t already), you may become arrested by a God-given desire for one or the other… or suddenly realise that something is not for you. But always confirm your choices and thoughts in prayer with God. Sometimes God 1) wants us to do things which are apart from where our immediate desires lie (eg. God telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac) or 2) sometimes God doesn’t want us to do things which we desire to do (eg. James 4:13-15). But be encouraged and trust that he will “work all things for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28) and satisfy your desires eventually in ways that are far better than we could engineer ourselves or imagine!

      At the end of the day, whether medicine, nursing or something else, if you submit your paths to him, he will use you mightily for his kingdom and make your paths straight!! This I am convinced of. “Seek first his righteousness and all these things will be given you”. I hope my reply helps – any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. If I can expand on anything, please let me know. I hope this helps and I’ve tried to share biblically and from what I myself have practiced and found in my life – I’m sure there is much more that can be said on this kind of subject but hope I have pointed you in a good direction!


      • Hello Nathan and “Thank you!”
        I am so very blessed to have stumbled upon your blog, sir. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to stand on the Word of the Lord and answer this question. I believe you are correct in your approach to figuring out a good direction in answering this question, and it truly is to pray. I have been reading through the BIble for answers, investigating both career paths, shadowing, and all the rest, but I have NOT been seeking God has strictly as I could/should be. I will need to do this, I think, before I can truly say I’ve exhausted all possible solutions to finding the best fit for my wife and I. Through shadowing I’ve seen a good bit of both roles, but haven’t yet felt that pang for one or the other, only that my heart earnestly reaches out to those who cannot help themselves. You tend to find an unfortunately high volume of those types in hospital wards and that’s just happens to be where I’ve been. I will take your advice and double my efforts to seek God first, and to set his priorities above my own. Thank you for the prayer, and thanks again for the wonderful encouragement.

        I will begin praying for you as well, Nathan, that God strengthens you and brings joy to whatever direction he leads you.

        “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

        Take care and God bless you,

  6. Thanks Nathan for writing this 🙂 Stumbled on your blog from a link in facebook and this post helped me understand God more and more and for me to go through the next two weeks to finals. I don’t really declare myself a christian (i’m quite confused..I grew up a buddhist but was personally agnostic). but ever since I started university, I struggled in a competitive course that I didnt like and had no clue why I chose it, and so I called out to jesus. The first time, I was introduced to God – a personal God who loved me individually. It’s been about a year and a half on this journey trusting god, so thanks for your words. 🙂
    god bless you!

    • Hi march,

      Thanks for your encouraging message! Your words bring me great joy and I love how God led you to this blog by “coincidence” ;). What a great testimony you share of what Jesus has done in your life over the last year and a half. My walk with God also started during university so that kind of story always resonates with me. I hope this is not intrusive, but I notice you say “I don’t really declare myself a christian”. How come? If you are journeying with Jesus – then I see no reason why you shouldn’t call yourself a Christian :). If you’ve answered his invitation of “follow me” (Mark 1:17), then by definition, you’re a follower of Christ (read: Christian), regardless of your previous religious background or how long or short you’ve been following him :). Just thought I’d offer that as food for thought! Regardless, may God bless you and continue to stir a passion for him within you, making himself known to you during your university course! ~Nathan

      • Thanks for replying Nathan!

        Just a sad, yet beautiful and inspiring story that took place this week I’d like to share with you. I came to know a beautiful little baby boy called Nathan, who was being treated at the hospital in my university. He’s only 16 months old and suffered numerous illnesses (multiple organ surgeries, steven-johnson syndrome). They stayed at the picu for almost 5 months, and he’s truly a miracle baby. His parents are one of the strongest parents I’ve come to know and are so kind hearted and wonderful followers of Christ too. They never gave up hope, always knowing for sure that he will be healed. Well, he passed on three days ago, and I was honored to attend his wake the next day at the local Salvation Army. It was intimate, peaceful and beautiful. they aren’t local, and it was wonderful to see help come in from everywhere in this period. It was my first wake, and a christian one, and at that moment, during the service, I knew for certainty what the afterlife was. Everyone I’ve met through this has really changed my perception of what a Christian is.

        Well, I appreciate your food for thought! I know I shouldn’t be, but maybe I’m insecure about openly being a Christian. I’m not sure if it’s just a phase. I’ve prayed, and I’ve always said that I wasn’t ready yet to make it official/put a label on it/say whatcha call it. Sounds very earthly. 😦 Well, I attended my friend’s church’s good fri service, and it was a good experience.

        Have a blessed good friday and a happy easter. 🙂

  7. this is a wonderful post you share. I myself struggle too. I don’t know if God wants me to pursue medicine. I always pray, talk to Him that lead me the way. I’m not a genius type student. I barely passed my exam when I’m in my undergrad which is nursing and already passed the boards and now a registered nurse. I always like helping others making them comfortable the best way that I can back then when I’m a student nurse in duty hospitals. I have already applied many medical schools and rejected me for not satisfying their needs in my credentials. I still don’t know if this what God wants me to do “Stop pursuing medicine?” I know that Im not an academically good student but I know I have the compassion. But because I always end up in rejection in medical schools that I applied for maybe this what he wanted or maybe not? maybe maybe and I’m still hoping what path should I go. I’m still confused.

    • Hi chindii, thanks for sharing. My thought is that you must hear from God. Is it really his will for you to do medicine? That is something that only the Lord can tell you :). I encourage you to continue to ask him for his will on this decision in prayer. Take heart – for he will not leave you without direction forever, like a sheep without a shepherd. He is our guide and shepherd, and he speaks to us today (John 10:27).

      For me personally, however, I find it difficult to discern his voice if I have a strong desire for something, regardless of what God has to say about it. I sometimes think I know best what I want – I think I know what’s best for me. But that’s not true. God know’s whats best for us and often we have no idea what is best for us. So many times my life has taken an unexpected turn against what I wanted in life – but in retrospect I have seen that what happened was part of God’s plan and was for my good (Romans 8:28). He works all things for the good of those who love him! It happens throughout the Bible as well (look at the story of Joseph!). So now what I try to do when facing a decision is to surrender my desires to God in prayer and say: “God, I think I really want this thing. But you know my desires better than I do! You know how to fully satisfy my desires – far better than I do! I think this choice will satisfy them – but you know what choice is best for me! So I pray what your Son Jesus prayed – not my will, but your will be done! Open the doors that need to be opened. For every door you open cannot be shut by man. But Lord, if it is not your will, close every door and make your will known to me”. He will not leave our prayers unanswered. He wants us to submit our desires to him, so he can fulfill them, (sometimes in a way completely different to what we expected).

      I note that you said “I always like helping others making them comfortable the best way that I can”. What a wonderful desire! And perhaps he wants to fulfill that desire in medicine – but perhaps he has other plans for you – plans to fulfill them in a different career path that satisfies that desire in a way you would never have expected. I do not know – but I do know that he can be trusted with your future. His plans for your are perfect, and his will for your life will be revealed (in his timing!) as you continue to ask of him and submit your desires to him!

      Take heart and continue to ask him in prayer – sometimes it takes time to discern his will – sometimes he has to make changes in our paradigms and the deep things within us before we can understand his will properly. Romans 12 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Sometimes transformation must occur within us before we can discern his will properly. My prayer for you is that he would transform and renew your mind, that you would be able to test and approve God’s will for you on this decision – whether it be medicine or a different career path. May he give you perseverance in prayer, and a heart to trust him regardless of the outcome. May you be like Christ who said: “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” He can be trusted – because his plans for your life are perfect 🙂

      • aww. I’m really touched of what you said. I wish I have read your reply before. I thought that you wont reply on my comment and out of the blue I remembered your blog and hoping to see if you noticed my comment and here I am 😀 I’m happy to tell you that my prayers are answered!! 😀 I’m already enrolled in a medical school that I thought i’m not qualified for. Before I’m almost lost and don’t know what purpose should I go and what I did was i surrender all to Him. I don’t know exactly how or when but I just felt the relief in my heart and months after that my prayers were answered. Thank you for replying for my comment. I know that the 2 years of being a medicine student is tough. Can I keep in touch to you when I need some enlightenment? thank you very much and God bless 🙂

      • Wow that’s amazing that your prayers were answered! Thank God! Yes, please feel free to check out/follow this blog or drop me an email in the future. May your journey in medicine be blessed ~N

  8. Pingback: Contemplating | Blue Loft

  9. I am at a lost for words at how much this blog entry spoke to me. You said, “How he is revealing himself to you, growing you and partnering with you on that journey has everything to do with what he has planned for you.” I sincerely believe that you are an amazing example of this statement. Your journey is helping others like myself work through our struggles biblically. I’ll be taking the MCAT in a week and these questions have been running ramped through my mind. God is using you as a vessel to reach us, and it is truly inspiring and adds to the infinite examples that make me in awe of how wondrous our Lord is! God Bless you!

  10. Hi Nathan ,
    it’s crazy how my story is exaclty the same , we probably have different religion (I’m muslim 😀 ) but still we both do believe in God . Im a second year med student and as you said I wasn’t the kind of people really passionate about medicine and 5 months ago I felt a lot of pressure and grief and decided to go on a gap year to just rethink of what Im doing in my life ,so I just started praying and asking god to guide me and to do what is best for me I even had a test to study commerce but I was kept in the waiting list and then I was just like dude god is pushing that thing from me and wants me to become a doc so I just prayed and thanked god about being with me this whole time .
    when I read your post I was just like It’s awesome how God is puting all of us in the way we should follow .
    may god always protect us and guide us .
    Much respect and courage 😀

  11. Hi Nathan

    These last two days have been really hard for me.
    I recently got back to college from vacations. Yes, I study medicine as well. And this is not the first time I wondered, am I really meant for this career?

    I always heard my dad, relatives and teachers talk about vocation. I looked for it on Wikipedia: A vocation is an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which he is suited, trained, or qualified. So yeah, If you do what you like to do, and you get paid for doing so, what else can you ask for? Now the question is: What is the right career for me?

    I don´t even remember why I chose Medicine in the first place. And that’s what’s worst. If you don’t know why you are doing the things you do then you are just a robot. Exams coming soon, you study, you have homework, you do it, you have to read this article, and you do it. Not because you wanted to, but because you had to. But you ll get to a point where can’t stand it anymore, you get tired of it all and ask yourself: Why am I doing this?

    The difference is that when you do the things you want to, you get a satisfactory feeling, yes you might get tired, exhausted and stressed, but deep inside you are happy. Like when I play table tennis, after an hour or two, sweating all over my body, feeling like lying on the floor because I can´t bare to stand one more second, but with a big smile on my face. I also see this in my brother and my dad. They both work but they don’t wake up in the morning and say with long faces: “Oh Great… It’s Monday again, the weekend is over and I have to get back to work” For them Monday is just another day of the week, they even stay at work extra hours (and they don’t get paid for that) and come back home to talk about how great was their day at work. All this because they enjoy what the do. They get that satisfactory feeling.

    I don’t feel this while studying medicine, I don’t get the stimulus to learn new things w/o being asked to do so. I restrain myself to hit the books because an exam day is coming closer, that’s my stimulus. Haven´t repeated any year yet (probably because I´m good at studying, as a matter of fact i’m in the top ten of the class) But if this is the only thing that is driving me, I’ll get to a point where stimulus will vanish… and I ll find myself struggling to know: Am I really meant for this career?

    Not to mention that I’m an insecure person and i’m not sure if I can take such a big responsibility as are human lives.

    These last two days have been really hard for me. I missed to classes already, so I’ve been searching for career test and quizzes on the internet and that’s how I found your blog. And here I am, writing a post hoping that my whole world may turn upside down and help me get out of this hole I’m in.

    Greetings, Alex.

    • Hey drkfx, I am so very sorry for the late reply – I’ve been really busy these last few weeks, but that is no excuse.

      I’m sorry to hear about the hard time you’ve been through. That must have been a really big strain on you personally. I pray that God would help carry your burdens! Matthew 11:29-30 says “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Your burdens are great, but the love of God and the compassion of God is greater. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

      I can relate to parts of your story. To be honest, I didn’t really start liking medicine till about 3 years into studying it!! I also felt very inadequate to study it – I am by no means the smartest, quickest or most disciplined person in my course. I felt like I really struggled academically at times, and also in terms of motivation. I too asked – “am I really meant for this career?” But like I wrote in my blog post – God doesn’t choose us a task because we are good enough in ourselves. “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)

      What kept me going was not a strong pleasure from studying medicine, nor a recognition that I was any good at it! I decided the only thing that mattered was that I was convinced and convicted in my heart that medicine was where God wanted me to be at this very moment. It doesn’t even mean I’ll be practicing as a doctor my whole life. I just knew through prayer and talking to God that studying medicine is my calling right now, just as Jesus’ calling in his 20s was to study as a carpenter. I pray that in your soul searching, you would come to know where God is calling you to be right now. And if it is medicine, that you would turn to him and lean upon him for perseverance, motivation and joy! That is my testimony. And if God could do it for me, he certainly can give you meaning and purpose in medicine as well! It’s normal to doubt whether we can handle the responsibility of looking after people’s lives. It’s normal to dread the hard work of Monday coming. It’s normal to be bored from having to study all the time! Don’t let those things hold you back if this path is God’s will for you my friend. Trust in God, and his mighty power for you “can do everything through Christ, who gives you strength”! (Philippians 4:13)

      • Hey Nathan, thank you so much for the reply, I appreciate you took the time to read it and write back.
        What you said was very encouraging and motivating. Now my mind is clear, and I know what I have to do. I have to pray and ask God whether this is what he really wants for me, and if it is I won´t give up and I ll keep on studying it 🙂

      • Hey drkfx, you are very welcome! I think that that is a good and wise course of action… I am confident that God will lead you in the way to go, as a shepherd leads his sheep. It may take time, but wrestling with him in prayer will bear rich fruit my friend. It will all be worth it.

        I ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:8-12)

        Feel free to write again and update me with what happens or if you need prayer.
        Will keep you in my prayers.
        God bless your journey friend!

  12. Hi Nathan,
    I just came across your blog – just want to thank you for sharing it, was just what I needed. I’m currently in my first term of second year of medical school in the UK. I grew up in a christian family and decided to follow Christ for myself as a young teenager but my faith has never been stronger than after my first year of university where I’ve made some amazing christian friends and realised just how much I want to give my life to God. The problem was this also made to start to seriously doubt my decision to study medicine. I applied to study medicine because I wanted to do a job that really helps people (however much of a cliché that sounds haha) However, my course is very science heavy and I feel like I’m just forever writing essays and reading textbooks on biochemistry (and getting extremely stressed) when I could be out there making a difference right now. I’m also a bit of a hypochondriac and feel the devil really used these anxieties to pull me away from God. It also worries me how strict the rules are on sharing your faith with colleagues and patients. I have really started to consider whether I would be serving God better in full time ministry. I think modern medicine is amazing and physical healing in this way can make so much difference to people’s lives – but how can this ever compare to knowing Jesus and his healing. I’ve spent the last year really unsure of what to do but I trust God and know that he has put me here for a reason.
    God bless,

    • Hi Grace, sorry for my late reply, I just finished my exam period! Your questions about whether to go full time ministry or stay in medicine sound a lot like my journey in the first 4 years of medicine for me. I think they’re really good questions to ask and talk to God about. Here in Australia, I think offering patients prayer is extremely rare, but still acceptable if a patient wants it (respecting the patient autonomy at the same time of course). Otherwise I find it satisfying to meet someone’s practical needs when they have an illness and I feel thankful that my career is an avenue by which I can show compassion to my fellow man like the Good Samaritan in the Bible. So I think medicine really offers you a chance to show the love of God through words potentially (eg. sharing the gospel to an inquiring patient or praying for a patient) but also in actions and conduct. I think God can use this mightily and also takes great joy from this. I always remember this verse:

      Matthew 25:37-40

      37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

      40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

      But what I wrote in my blog post were the key points in my journey to finding my path. Yours might be different – and I pray that God will show you the right path for you! But I definitely know God can use a doctor, a farmer, a shopkeeper, a carpenter, just as much as a full time minister! Ultimately, none is better than the other – but what counts is discerning the will of God and submitting to his path for you 🙂 I pray also that you would fight the devil when he plays on your anxieties – that God would protect you from him and make you aware of his schemes, that you would resist them and he would flee from you! God bless you! ~Nathan

  13. Thank you so much for this post. I posted before but I guess it didn’t send through the first time. Thank you so much for being so open and honest about what you go through during medical school. I’m in the Philippines taking the foreign student route for medical school and I’ve been really discouraged lately. I have so much fear in failure and I also question “is this really what God wants?” but I’ve been reminded numerous times, that God had made the way for medical school back in 2012 and He has been consistently faithful and will remain the same. I am in the third year now, and I contemplated on quitting and going back to my life back home in the States, and the other night I felt really discouraged, I ended up finding your blog after rreading through it, I felt a lot of my burdens were lifted. Thank you for allowing the Lord to use you, even through words, even though it’s indirect, but God used it directly for me.

    Thank you.

    • Thank you for your honest message! I am sorry for my late reply, I just finished my final exams. It’s comments like these that spur me on to keep writing. Very humbled that my blog spoke to you and could encourage you. Don’t feel alone, I think everyone in medicine has those times of fear of failure, those thoughts of quitting. But you must hear God’s voice. If you know that his will is for you to stay – then you must not give up. You must not give in but stay in his will and trust in him! If you trust in him, you cannot fail. Though times may be hard, he will deliver you one way or another. Perhaps he wants you to overcome fear of failure, or grow you in many other ways. I really do pray for you that you would grow in courage and never be afraid of exams. If God is for you, who can be against you? In the scheme of things, failure is nothing but a light and momentary setback. What matters is doing the will of God – and you are not alone – He is with you! Be encouraged friend. Praying for you. God bless you! ~N

  14. Hi Nathan,
    I am a 2nd year medical student here in the Philippines.
    Thank you for sharing your journey with God especially in your medlife.
    I am so happy to read your blog that I shared it to my med friends.
    I am inspired as well as moved on the verses. God’s Words pierced my heart. It’s alive that it put me in tears.
    I am not the most intelligent in class but I am running the race He set before me and to live a life worthy of His calling. ” 1Co 9:26    So I run like someone who has a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something, not just the air.
    1Co 9:27    It is my own body I fight to make it do what I want. I do this so that I won’t miss getting the prize myself after telling others about it.”
    I experienced that the true motivation is not on temporary things but only in God alone for He is consistent and ever faithful.
    What we have right now is a training ground- He mold us to be like Jesus..
    Continue to grow deeper in His Love. You are a blessing.
    God bless!
    – Deesri

    • Hi Deesri, thanks for writing and sharing so honestly. Wow, that is absolutely amazing that God has so spoken to your heart through the Bible. I’m definitely no the most intelligent in my class either (not by a long shot! (not false humility!)), but I have had much success through trusting all my studies to him and seeking first his kingdom (well, trying to anyway!). But truly it is so encouraging to hear testimonies like yours. I am sure if you maintain this posture in the Lord, your life will be a shining light in the world to your patients and colleagues… God bless you ! ~N

  15. Hi Nathan,
    Thank you for writing this. I’m taking the MCAT this friday and have been wrestling with God about it and whether this is my calling. Your perspective has been so beneficial to me (of course the Bible verses help to reinforce God’s love – the depth and breadth of which I’m still discovering anew). Thanks for helping me rest in His love and His plans for me. Shalom!

  16. Thank you Nathan,
    Just in time. Now to my upcoming licensure exam. I feel you. There are just days when you feel like quitting, when you tell God you dont fit, you dont qualify. But just like the days in the book of exodus, God only wants to reveal WHO HE IS to the Israelites. That He is the God who come through for them, He is the God who delivered them.

    Thank God! He does not change. He will be the same God who will come through for us.
    At the moment, press on! To whatever season, praise God.

    Greetings from the Philippines! God bless you brother 🙂

  17. I guess it’s God’s doing I’m now in your blog and have read this post. I’ve been exactly feeling like this since the start of my sophomore year (June 2015). And hope someday my questions will be answered, too. Thank you for posting this, by the way. 🙂 God bless you! 🙂

  18. Hi Nathan,

    I don’t know if you ever read comments to your blog anymore, but… hey. I really appreciate your blog. It has taught me a lot and has really made me focus on what really matters to me – being good to God, rather than always studying. It’s funny to me how I can read on google how to get your schoolwork done, by doing it all before you go to sleep, when my problem is, not being able to sleep without all my work done. It was really a restless, peaceless life of study for me until I let God in. But life is so terribly bad when it’s off-scheduled, and I try so hard to schedule a time to devote myself to God. And I always remember in multiple entries of your blog, that I must seek him first. And I’m doing my very best to do that, while leaving the rest to my studies, and I know he is happy I want to be with him. But I always want more time with him, and yet I feel so very bad when I do badly (or not as well) with my studies, that I feel I am too stupid for my studies. I know as long as I believe in him he will always guide me to good, and I say that it’s my faith in myself that’s so little, but I know I just need infinitely more trust in him. Please pray for me that I may have more faith to trust in Him and to work harder and smarter, to be alive in Him.

  19. Thank you Nathan. I’m 2 weeks away from my finals and I’ve been feeling the exact same way as you described in your blog. I know i should not doubt God’s plan for my life in medicine however i do so. I may not say it with my mouth but my actions reveal doubt and I pray that today after reading this, to have more faith and confidence in God because I’m not here for myself but I’m in medical school to serve and advance His Kingdom. Blessings to you and your studies! Thanks once again!

  20. This week I’ve had very negative comments from my senior colleagues about my skill and ability. I know I am not the most intelligent person in the world and somedays, medicine is such a drag. Working as a junior doctor has sapped more strength than I can remember. With a few weeks left to make the decision of which specialty, I’m still asking and praying for direction, still wondering whether this whole Medicine this is even for me, was it God’s will in the first place. But He assures me that “The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord” and I know that He does things in very different ways that at the end, He might get the glory. I was very encouraged by your post. The scriptures gave me answers to some questions and reminded me of answers I had already been given. Keep writing. Keep serving. Keep pleasing the Lord! Such a wonderful post and awesome bog! 🙂

  21. What more can I say? What more can I tell? What else can I imagine? I just bumped into your blog on my quest to getting some bible verses on effective studying. Your blog isn’t just informational, but more so, transformational. I can relate with your story as right now, having finished my master in International Business, I haven’t found something to do for the past 3 months, and I have gone for meet-ups events, job forums, and reached out to individuals on LinkedIn, and at a point, I felt demotivated. In fact as I’m writing this, I am currently on a two day retreat with God to understand where he has sent me, and what he actually wants me to do, and lo and behold, I bumped into your blog. May God strengthen you and help you become who he has called you to be. I see you functioning Super-humanly, Supernaturally, and Super-abundantly. God bless you Nathan.

  22. Hi Nathan

    Thank you for this, I am christian doing my engineering degree. A lot of times I have wondered why I am doing this (I became a christian in my second year of this degree). Why God allowed me to do this, I have lacked passion and haven’t worked as hard as I could have for his glory in this situation. Got my final exam tomorrow, but your post encouraged me that this degree doesn’t define me and God can still use me regardless and that he is greater than all this and all the plans I can think of. Thank for the encouragement and all that you are sharing on the blog.

  23. Nathan, this is so beautiful. The Lord is clearly working through you. I was fortunate enough to stumble across your blog a few weeks ago and it is now getting me through my exams.
    Which medical school are you at?

  24. The greatest blog ever…lol, bless God. Thanks mate.

    Marrying your point with scriptures here and in the other “75 Scriptures….” was great. Love your story.

    Ever so often I will review it for motivation. Appreciate your work done, to provide this material. You’re a blessing!

  25. Pingback: I didn’t choose medicine…Medicine CHOSE ME!  – dialosophy

  26. Thank you so much for writing this, I am sad that I came upon your blog so late into the game. I am 4 days away from taking the MCAT and I am, needless to say, FREAKING out. This road to medical school has been long and arduous, and I have questioned my motivations at every failure along the way, but your writing has given me a lot of much-needed peace. I hope you’re enjoying the doctor life!

  27. Hello Nathan, i have been out of med school for about 7 months now. My ‘reasons’ for leaving was based on the fact that my family(mother, especially) didn’t want to sponsor me anymore so i got really discouraged, secondly i got overwhelmed with the hassles of daily and weekly calls so much that i couldn’t think straight even when i was on call attending to patients. I mean, i was good at pre-clinicals, so good that my supervisor in internal medicine department was always pleased with my efforts i put forth in my group but i had started developing symptoms of psychosis so much that i would feel really depressed even when i tried talking myself out of it and meeting with counselors. I lost that burning passion to always go back and research on what i’d learnt in school, so i started disconnecting myself from everyone even family members. I felt like my entire life’s choices was a wreck. I deserted tests and exams, i’ve not set foot on school campus for 7 months now because i am very ashamed how the professors, my colleagues and junior colleagues are going to look at me but what i’m more scared of is the fact that i may turn out to be in a delirious state if i continue in the field of medicine. So i want to grab an opportunity( a scholarship programme) to go study Business Informatics because i am also good in math and IT which i think that should’ve been what i was suppose to choose when i graduated high school. I always aced in math. I don’t know for sure but i hope it sets me on a path that God wants me to go. Thanks for reading!

  28. Hi Nathan,

    Reading this blog has been really amazing, and touching. I am Christian and have often wondered whether I am right where I am supposed to be. I am married with kids, I am a musician, I work as an Executive Assistant to an Ambassador and I am trying to get my professional law certificate after getting my law degree. After trying last year and not getting accepted into the professional law school, I was really on the verge of giving up. Cos I really worked hard last year.
    I was asking myself what was the use of working so hard and reading so much… but now I understand its not so much the outcome but what God wants to make out of me through the journey. I have hope in my heart again, and I am going to try one more time to get into law school.

    God bless you

  29. This article has blessed me so much, I just want to weep with joy and relief. I have been praying and trying to understand why the Lord has called me to be in nursing school. I’m not the smartest nor interested in the field, but am here only because He called me. I much rather read my bible and talk about the Lord than pursue this field. Everything you mention in your blogs, even the scriptures you use are exactly the questions I have questioned God with and the battles I have wrestled with and the answers I receive from Him in His Word. So blessed by your post. Thank you for sharing, what a wonderful confirmation from the Lord by Him using your post. God bless you!

  30. Now this blog of yours got me out of bed this morning Nathan, inspired to go to work and pursue my part-time studies with renewed energy. My motivation increased 100% on a Monday morning after reading your story. May God bless you richly

  31. Hello Nathan! I know your post was written a couple of years ago but it really applies to my life right now! I would like to thank you and say God bless you and your wife for the help you are providing other people with, all across the world (I live in France!). I am currently in 1st year of medical school and I recently have been lacking the motivation to study well, since I felt like I didn’t know the purpose of it. I am now ver encouraged by your own testimony, thank you again so much, God bless you.

  32. Hello Nathan
    I think at a certain point in time I took my walk with God for granted…i fellowshipped less and less but still believed He is there for me…i mean yes He is but I have learnt that He causes us to come into certain situations to prompt us of our drifting away and to draw us closer to Him. I am currently seeking His face towards my upcoming exam and I just got to understand that He cares so much more for me and wants to make me aware of it totally and completely… stumbling upon your blog had been a blessing enlighten me to press on and keep up my walk and talk with God…afterall He is the pathmaker… I am also a minister in music and in the word and I bless God for the opportunity to testify of His goodness daily in my life… God bless you Nate!!!

  33. Thank you Nathan for being an instrument of God. In medicine the struggle is real..God has a purpose for each of us and i have learned to walk by faith. Thank you for being a light i need in this valley.

  34. very inspiring. i am going on roughly the same situation as you are, and i thought about giving up, but God showed you why he put you in medicine to experience hardships and He also spoke to me in the bible verse that says He uses the lowly to nullify the greats. God is awesome in His ways and truly you have inspired me into getting back on medicine, not to focus on achieving tangible outcomes but on bearing fruits, fruit that will last. 3 yrs ago i was doing my thesis and i got sick, and i saw how God used the experiences i had for His glory, truly we can never do anything big for God, but if we become faithful in the small things we do, which He entrusted us to do, He will multiply our gifts. thank you and God bless us on our journey. may the Lord’s light shine thru our lives.

  35. I’m a medical student in my second year in Nigeria. I’m fortunate to have seen your posts after I had searched in Google for examination prayers and Bible portions, because I’ll be writing my 1st semester exams soon. I’m motivated and lifted with what God has used you to minister to me today. I pray that I please him with my field of study and pass with flying colors. Please involve me on your prayers.

  36. Hi Nathan,
    I don’t even know if you’re still active on this weblog but I’m truly thankful for this. I’m studying medicine at the moment and past monday a friend of mine, who also studies medicine, asked me what the meaning of studying medicine was in the perspective of Gods kingdom. And today I found this while I was writing something for school and search on google for ”christian motivation study” because I couldn’t concentrate. And this truly helped me, and I sent this to my friend as well (if you’re reading this Eline: keep up the good work :))

    Thanks, God bless you

  37. This is amazing. I’m final year medicine in Northern Ireland and feeling exactly this at the moment. Great to refocus on how God is shaping us and teaching us to depend on Him rather than focus on human outcomes. Thank you!

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