Written by Krisandryka Wijaya, Indonesia
I love Neurology. The study of the disorders and diseases of the nervous system fascinates me. During my time at medical school, I participated in Indonesian Medical Olympiad and though I didn’t win, the experience strengthened my love for the branch of medical science. After graduating from medical school, I applied to be a neurology resident at a public university.
From where I come from, you can choose between a public or private university if you want to be a General Practitioner (GP). But if you want to be a specialist, i.e. a neurologist, surgeon, pediatrician etc., you must attend a public university.
The thing is, the odds of getting accepted into a public university are very low. According to my seniors, test results and work experience play a tiny role in determining whether or not you get accepted. Instead, your connections, faith, and ethnic group play a much more significant part—or in their words, “Those who are accepted are either blue-bloods or the lucky ones.”
Being a part of the minority (as a Chinese and a Christian) with neither work experience nor connections, my hopes of getting accepted into a public university were not high. During the residency interview, one of the interviewers implied that I didn’t have any work experience and failed to prove my interest in neurology. So when I was notified that I didn’t get accepted, I only felt a tinge of disappointment, knowing that I had two attempts to try and get in. I held onto the tiny glimmer of hope that I would get accepted the second time and prove them wrong.
Two months later, I started working in a hospital as a GP. I worked shifts and on top of that, I was attached as an intern to the two neurologists working in the hospital. I got into work early five days a week to follow up on their patients, assist them in their rounds, and also help out in the neurology clinic. Though doubling up as an intern and a GP was exhausting, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I believed that this would greatly boost my resume and give me a fighting chance when I made my second attempt to apply for residency.
I had high hopes when I took the test the second time. I thought I did pretty well in the written tests—I had studied much harder this time than the first round—and at the interview too. It also seemed like the interviewers were much nicer to me; I didn’t pick up on any possible hint of rejection.
But I was completely wrong. On December 20, I received my second, and final “No”.
I was in disbelief. Though I knew that I was up against all odds, I believed that God was able to make it happen if He wanted to. Apparently that was not the case. It was like God Himself had rejected my dream and I was left hurt.
“Why didn’t You give me what I want?” I asked God repeatedly during that time. Though I still prayed and read the Bible daily, I was disappointed and angry with God. I celebrated Christmas and New Year’s half-heartedly. I felt lost. I knew that God works for the good of all who love Him (Romans 8:28 is actually my favorite verse in the Bible) but I just couldn’t see the good in this at all. My top new year’s resolution was to trust God’s plan for my life. But how was I going to do it now?
God provided the answer soon enough. On the first Sunday of 2018, I attended the second service for young professionals and new parents (I usually attend the youth service but I overslept that day). The sermon was based on Jeremiah 29, with an emphasis on the verses 11-14. Most of us would find verse 11 familiar, “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.”
Though I’d heard these verses many times before, I’d never really understood them in their original context. What I learned that day was that God had given this word to the Israelites during a difficult and dark time in Israel’s history when many of them were exiled to Babylon. They couldn’t accept the fact that 800 years after being freed from Egyptian bondage, God would once again allow them to return to bondage in Babylon. But God said through His prophet Jeremiah that 70 years must pass before they would be able to return to their homeland.
Hearing the passage in its original context gave me a much better appreciation of the promise God made to the Israelites. I felt like I could identify with the Israelites, who must have struggled to hold onto God’s promise to them in the midst of their bondage. But, at the same time, I was reminded that the same God who took care of them—delivered them from their slavery, provided for them in the wilderness, defeated the mighty Canaanites, gave them the Promised Land and made them into a great nation—is the same God who takes care of me. He gave me life and the gift of salvation, provided for my family, and enabled me to go to medical school and become a GP, among other things. God allowed the Israelites to go into exile as part of His plan for them and I could trust that He allowed me to go through this as part of His overall plan for my life.
At present, I am continuing my work as a GP in the same hospital I was previously interning at and I will be getting married at the end of this year to a fellow doctor. Though I know I may never be able to attain my dream of becoming a neurologist, especially if we do start our own family, I do not fear the future anymore because I know that God holds my future.
He is the author of my life who has good plans for me. So I trust Him and His plans as I journey on this road of life with Him by my side.