Mornings in the time of COVID-19

Well it’s a funny old time isn’t it?

Just look at my morning routine now.

I wake up, and the first thing I check is the number of new COVID-19 cases in Australia. I check how cases have increased around the world. I check the South Australia Health website to see if there’s been any credible reports of community transmission.

I check to see what new government policies are in place and how life is changing around us.

I look across to my wife still asleep and give thanks. It crosses my mind about what would happen if I got sick and passed it to her.

But there’s no time to dwell on such thoughts, and I reassure myself with reports from around the world that my risk is significantly lower than others.

It’s going to be a big week. We have already jumped from 700 to almost 1400 cases in about 3 days.

I try to maintain a degree of normality. I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz. Try it. Something about that creativity breathes an agile harmony into a chaotic world. As I sip my coffee this morning before heading off to an uncertain week, I think about what the day will bring.

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I will do my routine visit to my 20-30 patients at the local nursing home and see what the situation is there. They are in a lockdown and I wonder what state of preparedness they are in (I’m already bracing myself).

Afterwards I’ll go to the clinic and I wonder if I’ll have enough swabs if required (last week I was down to my last swab tube), and whether I’ll have to use up one of the last two PPE gowns that I have.

I await letters from the government to see whether they’ll accept my proposal for me to setup a COVID testing clinic at the practice to help unburden the case load of our hospitals.

I feel somewhat apprehensive about possible backlash from other doctors and staff at the practice – I don’t blame them – they may see my plans as placing them at additional risk (and perhaps validly so).

I hope my shipment of 100 gowns arrives today – having had to resort to eBay after all stockists have closed and having received no additional stock from the government due to shortages.

As these thoughts swirl in my head, sometimes intruding on my personal life, I pray that God would give me wisdom and courage for a time like this. Though I am starting to feel the strain of constantly thinking about COVID, COVID, COVID, I also feel the strength of shared humanity, of a globe that is facing a common enemy, of a shared experience of all radically changing our lives for the good of our countries, our cities, our villages, our communities, our families.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going”

75 Bible Verses That Got Me Through Med School Exams

I must confess that during exams, I sometimes find myself spending less time with God.

Tired from hours of cramming, I start getting too tired to spend time with God after a long day’s work. I begin to lose my priorities. I unintentionally pack my days so full with study that there’s no room left for him. Before I know it, my usual routine of setting aside time for the Lord each day flies out the window. It’s not an intentional decision to turn from God… but an insidious process that happens when I lose my priorities in the face of looming barrier exams.

Library (derived from Flickr (Friar's Balsam) http://flic.kr/p/82ipB5)

But every year when this happens, one particular verse comes back to me and grabs my attention. It is a famous one which has been the recurring theme of my medical school life for the last five years:

Matthew 6:33-34
Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.

When I remember this passage, I remember what is really important in life. I realise anew what is the true key to success. What amount of human effort can ever be more effective than the help that God gives to anyone who seeks his kingdom?

Every time I’ve tried to live my life in accordance with this passage, I’ve seen God do things which I thought weren’t possible. This whole blog is a testimony of those stories. Now, as I look back after five years of exams, I realise again that my success in exams so far has come from seeking the Lord, not from trying to achieve out of my own human strength.

So with my final exams of medical school coming up in six days, I’ve decided to post a collection of my favourite Bible verses for exams (categorised by topic) that have helped me through every exam so far from the last five years. This collection of Bible verses for exams are as much a reminder to myself, as an encourager to other students facing exams.

Lord, help me to take a break from the text books every so often and remember where my greatest help comes from:

Psalm 121:2
My help comes from the Lordthe Maker of heaven and earth.

Sticky note Bible verses

BIBLE VERSES ABOUT STRESS, ANXIETY AND DOUBT

You never, ever have to be afraid of exams.

Hebrews 13:6
So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?”

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Proverbs 3:25-26
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
    or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be at your side
    and will keep your foot from being snared.

I will not worry about what is outside my control. God is fully in control of my exams, my destiny, my results.

Psalm 139:16
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

You weren’t chosen because you were perfect for the task. God deliberately chose in spite of your weaknesses.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29
27 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. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.

 Isaiah 41:9-10
I took you from the ends of the earth,
    from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
    I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

2 Corinthians 2:15-17
15…Who is equal to such a task?… 17 …in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

It’s normal to have times of depression. But God will rescue you out of them!

“Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”

1 Kings 19:3-8
Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you. So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

God will help you to persevere – in hardships, distress and sleeplessness.

2 Corinthians 6:4-10
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5…in hard work, sleepless nights through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report…yet we live on; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

2 Thessalonians 3:5
May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

You do not face exams alone: GOD is right by your side fighting for you. 

1 Corinthians 15:57
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I refuse to dwell on my past failures, my past mistakes, or the impossibility of my circumstances.

Philippians 3:13-14
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I will recall past victories and remember that God has been faithful to me in the past.

Psalm 77:7-12
To this I will appeal:
    the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.

1 Samuel 7:12
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

I will not evaluate my circumstances with worldly eyes.

2 Corinthians 4:18
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

For we live by faith, not by sight.

God gives you sleep and rest and peace.

Proverbs 3:24
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Psalm 3:5
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

I’m allowed to acknowledge that life is hard. But through my suffering, I see God.

Psalm 34:19 (HCSB)
19 Many adversities come to the one who is righteous,
but the Lord delivers him from them all.

2 Corinthians 4:7-11
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.

 

Photo Credit: athena. via Compfight cc

BIBLE VERSES ABOUT MOTIVATION

I will work to the best of my ability because I am working for God, not myself, or anyone else.

Colossians 3:23-24
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

God has a GOOD purpose for your life in this journey. 

Psalm 138:8 (ESVUK)
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures for ever.

Philippians 2:13
For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

1 Corinthians 2:9
However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

These trials and tribulations are God’s training for the purposes he has for you, both now, and in the future.

6 …for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Song of Songs 3:7-8
Look! It is Solomon’s carriage,
    escorted by sixty warriors,
    the noblest of Israel,
all of them wearing the sword,
    all experienced in battle,
each with his sword at his side,
    prepared for the terrors of the night.

The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

I will be faithful to the academic calling that God has placed on my life.

Matthew 25:14-21
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more...

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

One day, God will show you that all your effort and struggle was worth it.

 2 Corinthians 4:16-17
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Eden Valley Cross (Copyright https://thegloryofgodismanfullyalive.wordpress.com)

BIBLE VERSES ABOUT GOD’S BLESSING

God is with you, and God is in you.

Matthew 28:20
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 1:23
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

God shows his favour on you, a beloved child of God.

2 Corinthians 6:2
For he says,

“In the time of my favor I heard you,
    and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.

God grants you favour in the eyes of your examiners.

Joseph found favor in Potiphar’s eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.
The Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.
Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel…

God increases your ability to study.

Daniel 1:17
To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.

Proverbs 2:6
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Deuteronomy 33:11
Bless all his skills, Lordand be pleased with the work of his hands.

Exodus 35:30-32
He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills

God helps the powerless against the mighty.

2 Chronicles 14:11
11 Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.”

Be confident, regardless of my human ability, because your confidence is in God.

2 Corinthians 5:8-9
We are confident, I say…we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.
Psalm 18:29
With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.

God renews your energy levels.

Isaiah 40:30-31

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Hands in worship

BIBLE VERSES ABOUT PERSPECTIVE

Never lose sight of what is really important. Exams are temporary. But serving and seeking God has value for eternity.

Matthew 6:33-34
Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Psalm 105:4
Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.

Never let exam stress make you forget to count the blessings in life.

Philippians 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Colossians 2:6-8
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Psalm 136:1
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.

Never listen to worldly advice. When everyone around me is doing things their own way, I will succeed in a different way – trusting in God, not in myself.

Psalm 20:7
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Psalm 44:5-7
Through you we push back our enemies;
    through your name we trample our foes.
I put no trust in my bow,
    my sword does not bring me victory;
but you give us victory over our enemies,
    you put our adversaries to shame.

Proverbs 3:5-6
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.

Psalm 33:16-19
16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
    no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
    despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
    and keep them alive in famine.

For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
Psalm 91:7
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

God can do miracles. Impossible is nothing. God is stronger than you think. Exams are nothing to God.

Mark 10:27
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

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

Jeremiah 32:27
“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?

God knows best. If his will is for me to fail, it’s because he has his reasons. And I know one day, whether on heaven or on earth, I will realise his good reasons.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Psalm 27:13-14
I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

God has joy over me and loves me and gives me joy no matter what the outcome of the exams are.

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Colossians 3:2
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Psalm 147:10-11
10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
    nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
11 the Lord delights in those who fear him,
    who put their hope in his unfailing love.

The Lord Is My Rock

“The Lord Is My Rock”