things above

Trials and JOY September 1, 2009

I’m back!

(A gentleman’s agreement!) Huzzah!

A few hundred views in just a few days! AND QUITE A FEW OF THEM ARE IN AMERICA! LIKE 20 OR MORE! I’M SO EXCITED (if you American viewers see this, it would make me beyond giddy if you dropped me a little comment or something ;))!!! Yes, I am quite liking the attention! 😉 But even more than the attention, I’m liking that people have enjoyed reading and are challenged by some of the ideas I put forward and I hope that I can keep up with the thought provoking posts. I’ve liked the fact that people have been commenting and also asking me questions and discussing things with me after reading these blogs, so feel free to do that too because I’d be very happy to talk to you! And I’m quite surprised and happy that people bothered to read my 3000+ word post. Props to you. You guys might get lucky with a shorter one this time. But then again, you might not. 😀

Well, yeah I’m 2000 words in right now and it’s not looking like it’s going to finish soon. Unlucky. 😛

I plan for this post to be about HSC trials, trials in life and joy (hopefully I won’t go off on a tangent again. I’ll just be normal. /end Ringo’s lame maths joke). A sort of continuation from my last post. So if you haven’t read that and have a few years to spare, you may do so! 😀

Okay. Following this post, my blogs will probably be much less regular until after HSC finishes (and they might not all be so… sermon style. They might be more personal – I said in blog #1 that this blog is really meant for me, so some of my posts might just be like a diary on how I’m going. But of course you’re welcome to read it; that’s why I’m posting it publicly). And even after HSC finishes they might still not be so frequent, depending on how much time I have. Sorry, fans. 😛

Kidding. About the fans bit.

If I remember, here is the word count: 3312 (sorry again :P)

Again, small talk comes first.


Australian Idol

Okay, I thought I did enough hating last blog on this. But I watched some of the wildcards show tonight (the people the judges thought were good but didn’t get through) and it was HORRIBLE. AND to make it worse, the judges don’t seem to notice just how out of tune everyone is! Even Dicko seems to be lax with the criticism, telling them that he hopes they go through because they’re great lalala. Now I don’t know if all the TVs in my house have their sound screwed up but I think this show is horrible right now. Haterade tastes so good.


Luigi. The forgotten brother.

Painting Mona Lisa on MS Paint. Who needs Photoshop anyway?

Speaking of Photoshop, here is the most awesome Photoshopper. Time lapse Photoshop painting of Slash from Guns N’ Roses:

My favourite pianist on YouTube. David sides is incredible. RIP MJ.

Despite my recent surge of Love Story videos, no, I’m still not a fan. I’m a fan of this man, though. Mmmmmm, Gabe Bondoc. Hi Emma. 😉

This man too. Chris Cendana.


Just eBay’ed Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream ($6.25). End CD drought. Now to wait for it to arrive.

Anyway, get VeggieTales – Silly Songs With Larry. It’s about $5 at Koorong and is amazing if you’re a fan of the show. Best lyrics evaHz~`!

Love My Lips:

“She had a beard and it felt weird”

Yep. 😉

Funny Picture

Get it? ;)

Get it? 😉

Blog: Act I, Scene iii – HSC Trials, Life Trials, Our JOY

My horrible introduction

Enter Year 12 STUDENT, EXAMS

STUDENT: Why, O why?

Exams, thou hast left me to die!

EXAMS: [inanimate]

STUDENT: O, thou detest me, HSC Trials!

Why must thou be’ist as bad as this year’s Australian Idols?

(I apologise for the reference. I can hear Idol outside right now. Someone’s singing Kelly Clarkson. It’s not pretty)

EXAMS: [still inanimate]

STUDENT: Be this the end of mine world?

Thou makest me hurl!

Cursed be thee, exams of hours three,

Thou makest me needeth to pee!


TEACHER: Commenceth thy reading,

Of five minutes only you will be needing.

Enter GOD (and exeunt horrible attempt at writing Shakespeare. Yep, I’m a dorkataur. I don’t care if I hate Shakespeare, that guy was incredible at writing in this horrible English. Don’t know how he did it)

GOD: Where am I in all this? Did I not tell you not to worry? Did I not tell you to set your mind on things above, not on earth?

Exams! Stress! Why?

A lot of the time, it seems that our Christian lives are based on what is happening around us in the world. Maybe we tend to forget God in times of stress because there is just no time for Him. Or maybe we tend to forget God when things are going fine and only turn to Him when we feel we need to. I know that in the past, I have often forgotten God during exams if I was studying (or try to study, at least). I would pray to Him only when I wasn’t coping well and I would skip church every now and then if I had exams or assignments due the next day. But is this the right attitude to be taking?

I will expand on this in my blog but I’ll just say it now. NO. I had the wrong attitude towards study and God in these times.

Stress? Well, I don’t think there is anything wrong with a little bit of stress. If you’re not stressed in the slightest thenI guess you wouldn’t be studying or caring about how you do, so I’d say a little stress is healthy for doing well in exams and such. But I would say that TOO much stress for exams is not good, especially if it means neglecting God in any way, which I think is what happens a lot of the time when stress kicks in. Bible reading, prayer, quiet times seem to become scarce or non-existent.

Why do we stress and get anxious? I learnt in PE that our anxiety level is a combination of TRAIT anxiety (how stressed we get because of the person we are) and STATE anxiety (our reaction to the given stimulus – i.e. exams). So although a little anxiety is probably unpreventable, I’d say that we are able to change how much this stimulus affects us. It depends how we look at these exams and how important they are to you. As year 12 goes on, the assessments become “more important”, as they have higher weighting on them than the previous ones. This happens the whole year until HSC trials, the biggest internal exams. And then the dreaded HSC, which is worth just as much as your entire year’s worth of school assessments. And as I mentioned in my previous blog, marks lead to ATAR, which leads to course in university, which leads to job, which leads to money, which leads to… NOTHING, and then death.

So the extent of stress which you experience as a result of assessments is not really because assessments are THAT stressful, but is because we see the course we do at university as something of importance in our lives. I also mentioned in my previous blog that God told us not to worry about things of this world but to have our minds set on things above. If we trust in God, we really shouldn’t be worrying about earthly things such as marks, since our citizenship is in heaven and we should be focusing instead on that (Philippians 3:20). But okay, I guess it’s accepted that we care about what course we do, since we want to do a job that we will enjoy and/or earn us enough money for our needs (or maybe even getting a course that will help you to serve God, which is awesome). We live in this world are are attached to it to some extent. We also can’t be “Amish”-like and just not be part of the world at all, since that would mean we can’t relate to anyone at all (I will probably discuss this in a future blog on worldliness). So then, we can see times of stress as trialing times (no pun on HSC trials intended).

Parents – feedback from previous blog

I had an interesting conversation with someone (I’ll leave you unnamed unless you want me to put your name here – give me a shout) about parents after they read my last blog. We talked about how parents want the best for us and I think that is very true for most people, no matter how hard it is to see it. They might do things which make you wonder how they can love you and care about you in any way but to them it is for your benefit. For example, when you were little, if you were ever punished for doing something “wrong”, you didn’t realise it at the time but your parents were disciplining you so that you wouldn’t do it again and you would therefore, improve. Although sometimes when I hear of parents punishing their kids for certain things which I find unworthy of punishment (e.g. grounding children in the holidays for not doing well in exams), I only find it unreasonable because I don’t understand where they’re coming from. Many parents don’t know anything more than providing a means for their child to earn money, and that is the best they can do for their child. That probably involves pressuring you to do well if your parents have that mindset or a similar one, so although I might have sounded hateful before, I really don’t promote hate towards these parents. I think that having a good relationship with your parents is extremely important no matter how much your views clash with theirs (I’m not intentionally referencing Module C, sorry). They’re not going to be around forever.

My personal experience with previous exams (HSC Trials covered later, keep reading)

I mentioned in my previous blog that I have never been pressured to do well in exams. If I wanted pressure, I had to bring it upon myself. So I think that if I didn’t go to James Ruse or a similar school, I probably would have never done well and it’s only because everyone else is working so hard and wanting to do well that I’ve come to a habit of putting in at least a little bit of effort for exams (at least for year 11 and 12). I also mentioned earlier in this post that in year 11 and 12 I’ve been stressed at times and this has affected my life as a Christian. I saw doing well in assessments as being of a higher priority than spending time with God but this just goes to show how worldly I am.

For the first two lots of year 12 assessments, I did really well. Heck, I aced the exams by my standards and came out with a real snazzy UAI estimate. And then in the third term of assessments, I was really looking to do well so I could maintain this. But then I got really sick before the exams (as I always do), which got me really stressed because HOW WAS I GOING TO DO WELL NOW? I ended up being too sick to do four of my scheduled exams and they had to be done later on. I found it really hard to study because I was so sick and I couldn’t concentrate and my stress was really kicking in. I was in a horrible horrible horrible mood during exams as a select few of you might know, especially when I got one of my maths exams back and I found out I had accidentally left out half a section in it (I also did this in the previous exam, I rock. :D) and ended up failing. In general, I did much worse in this set of exams than my previous ones and was really hoping that I got compensation marks for being sick on the days. But then I was scheduled to do my talk for ISCF the next week and there was a part of it that was on being joyful always.

Joy in trials, joy in suffering, joy in everything

Because joy is such a large large topic I will probably be coming back to it a lot in future blog posts, since it’s not possible to cover it in my oh so short few thousand word posts. 😉

Anyway, I found that through that time of stress in those exams, I was not joyful at all. I was feeling bitter and probably resentful towards a lot of things, including resentment towards God. Did I have any rational reason for it? Not at all! After being cheered up after my fail in maths (hehe thank you, that person ;)), I went home and had a while to eat ice cream and have alone time to think. I figured that I had the wrong attitude and approach to these exams. I was placing this worldly thing above God and not trusting in God at all. Why was I getting so worked up about just one set of exams anyway? I was placing my trust in marks to get me through in life, rather than the one who created me to get me through.

Really, I shouldn’t have seen exams as something SO important that would make me place it above God. There is NOTHING which is THAT important. In fact, we should see trials and suffering (suffering doesn’t necessarily refer to physical torture and stuff, it can be anything that puts you through stress) as something to be joyful about if you place your trust in God! The talk that I gave at ISCF was on 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, and in verse 16, there is a command to “be joyful always”.

There are many instances in the Bible which talk about joy in trials: James 1:2-3, 12 talks about considering it pure joy when we are face with trials, as the testing of our faith brings about perseverance and that someone who perseveres in this regard will receive God’s reward of eternal life. A friend I met at ISCF Leadership Conference a couple years back (Ed Sowden) wrote a great little article on fervr on this pure joy, which you can read here. Another part of the Bible which talks about joy is Romans 5:1-11, which demonstrates this chain: suffering -> perseverance -> character -> hope – and what is this hope? The hope of eternal life with God, which we rejoice (have joy) in. We should ALWAYS have joy, no matter what the circumstance is. Sure, it’s okay to feel down over certain things at times but it’s important to step back and see the bigger picture. The things that get us down are worldly but what can change the joy we have in the hope of eternal life? Nothing at all! Jesus has ALREADY died and saved us from eternal punishment, so this hope of eternal life isn’t going anywhere: it’s been DONE! So with this undying hope, we have undying joy! So these trials and this suffering that we go through in school and in life… we have nothing to be bitter about. In fact, we should be joyful during these times and in ALL times because we know that we are saved and we have eternity, rather than this broken temporary world to look forward to!

1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 says to pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances. Even with things putting you down, there are ALWAYS things which you can thank God for. For example, when I was sick and not doing as well as I liked in exams, I could have been thankful that I wasn’t SO sick I couldn’t function (I didn’t have swine flu, thank God), no matter how badly I think I do in exams, I still go to Ruse and it’s only because my standards are so high that I’m disappointed. I could have thanked God for every new day, for family and friends, I could have thanked God for Jesus (as we should every day), that he took the punishment for us so that we could have salvation. There are so many things that we can thank God for, no matter what the circumstance is. In the Bible, Job is a man who is righteous and does no wrong but suffers immensely, both physically and mentally – his children die and his wealth disappears, amongst many other things (can’t remember exactly, I haven’t read it in a long while). However, instead of cursing God, he seeks to find out what he HIMSELF did wrong. He praises God, saying that he knows his Redeemer lives. Job perseveres through all the suffering and trials he is put through. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all have an attitude like this – unconditionally loving and praising God, no matter what the circumstance?

HSC Trials Review

So a few weeks ago year 12’s everywhere had the HSC trials. So these were THE exams, which were apparently meant to be the most stressful of all exams in the first 18 years of life. But this was probably the least stressed I’ve been for any exams in the last couple of years. Why? Because I didn’t see the exams as being as important this time. Things were going well in life and I found that it really wasn’t that essential to stress so much over the exams, as long as I placed my trust in God to provide for me. This doesn’t mean that I can just not study and ask God to pull me through and give me full marks: I think it is more a commensal relationship, where both God and myself are working (you reap what you sow).

So, unlike before, I looked at the assessments as not something which was there to bring me down but as something which was there to build me up in perseverance. It was something that would test my faith and trust in God and something to have joy in. I stepped back for once and saw the bigger picture: these exams didn’t REALLY matter in the long run, since this period was just a bump in the road and what really matters is remaining in God in faith through these times.

So with this new attitude, I was determined not to have assessments get me down, no matter what the outcome. I’ve received almost all my results now and even though I haven’t done as well as I maybe could have if I studied harder or had a clearer mind during exams, I’m not complaining or sulking. I’m satisfied with my results because I know that they are only temporary, like the rest of the world. So I hope that I can carry this same attitude through my life and not be sucked into worrying about earthly things.

It is only recently that I’ve had this attitude and it has brought me quite a lot of joy in life. I highly recommend it. 😛

Applying it:

  • What do you worry about? What is important to you? If you’re in year 12 then it is most likely the HSC. If you’re not, it might be work, or parents, or relationships or anything. How important is this world to you in comparison to eternity with God? Have a think about why it is important to you and whether this thing you’re worrying about has been impacting your relationship with God (either positively or negatively).
  • Think about what you are thankful for. There are ALWAYS things that you can thank God for.
  • Pray to God – always give thanks and bring before Him EVERYTHING. If you want your relationship with God to work or improve, you need to communicate through prayer.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. You’re redonkulous.


13 Responses to “Trials and JOY”

  1. meelo Says:

    oh hai
    at the centre of my worries would have to be trials, hsc and beyond
    this is the culmination of twelve long years of education and yet..
    the effort i am putting in is weak
    now, although i am not religious, i can see where the support comes in, and so on and so forth
    and how one can, i suppose, achieve a greater level of understanding between both themselves, the world around them, and their spiritual focus
    ..but yes i am pretending to know about things of which i do not understand

    i suppose having a positive outlook on life, that no matter what happens, it’s not the end of the world, will help things along

    be happy ! don’t worry !

  2. :) Says:

    wow…just came across this on my facebook homepage

    it takes a lot to start a blog, especially one which you are bothered to write in regularly and which contains productive information and opinions


    ..freaked out a bit when it said 3312 words :0

  3. Simon Chow Says:

    Milo: YEAH THE RELATED POSTS! HAHA WHAT??? But yes, we can always chat about it if you want. 😀
    Peony: Thanks! Will do. Maybe if you read again it won’t be so long. 😛

  4. aaeeehhhh Says:

    Kudos to you Simon. No matter what the world throws at you, you’ll always be ready I guess. Unlike most of us who place too much pressure on ourselves, you may come off better. I haven’t seen that bigger picture as of yet but hey, things are looking up now that trials ARE over. Neddys is growing 😀


    • Simon Chow Says:

      Aeeeehhhhh!!! I love your blog. It gives me the tickles. 😀

      And glad things are looking up now. Not long to go now!

  5. Z-hang Says:

    wow…..[I thought I posted on this…=S] oh well, fail memory
    “count it pure joy when your world comes crashin, hold your head up and keep on dancin” xD
    your posts are really challenging to read, yet simple as well, come houseparty, could we ask for your help on quiet time writings? =)

  6. Christine Says:

    Hey I stumbled upon this on facebook and was compelled to comment because I think you’re really passionate and that it’s great you’re putting yourself out there. I’m not Christian but I do believe we should all practice gratitude daily. Also, I’ve also never been pressured to go hard for the top marks and to know everything but my parents have instilled in me the value of good, honest work and from that I’ve been able to realise myself as you said ‘you reap what you sow’ 🙂

  7. aaeeehhhh Says:

    awesome post simon.
    I too find refuge knowing that even if I do succeed or fail in my exams, God will always be by my side.
    But on another note, lets try not to disappoint and start up our famed BIO study group.

  8. Emma Says:

    haha love your Shakespearean rendition of the trials. You are a dorkataur-eth.

  9. Aditi Says:

    Thanks Simon

  10. Aditi Says:

    Yeah, those vids are rad, i like the slash one, and also the amzing michael jackson medly 😉

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