What if I fail my exams?
Do you feel like the rest of your life depends on your exam results?
Do you get nervous waiting for your exam results? Maybe you can’t eat because your stomach is churning so much. You keep wondering about a whole bunch of questions:
- What will the results be?
- Will they be enough to get into my university course?
- What if... what if I don’t get to do what I really, really wanted to do?
When your dream is shattered
I remember the shock of 'bad' exam results. One minute I had my world all planned out, and the next ... well, the next moment everything crashed down around me. Here are some questions I had to deal with:
- How much am I thinking 'Good marks = good person?'
- How much of my self-esteem depends on my academic results?
- Am I trusting in God, or am I really trying to control him by planning out my own future?
- Have I been expecting God to automatically approve my ideas, rather than letting Him be in charge?
- What now??????
In Proverbs, we are reminded:
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
If you’re dealing with the same grief I had to deal with, don’t panic. It can feel like you’re facing a really uncertain future, but you’re not alone, and you’re not lost. Here are some things that helped me:
1. God loves you
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)
You might not be feeling very loved right now, but God loves you more than you know. He loves you so much that Jesus came to give up his life for you. No matter what happens, God doesn’t love you any less. His love is not dependent on any exam mark.
2. God knows you better than you know yourself
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. (Psalm 139:1-4)
If God knows all this about you, then he also knows your gifts. He knows what you’re best at, even if you’re still struggling to work that out.
3. God knows the future, and he’s in control of everything
... all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16)
When everything seems out of control, God’s still in control. In my case, I can look back now and thank God he didn’t let me head in the direction I wanted to - it would have been a disaster! But at the time, I just had to trust Him that he knew what he was doing. When life seemed most out of control, God was fully in charge.
4. God’s plans are different to our plans
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)
God isn’t us. He doesn’t just nod and approve of whatever we think we should do. Sometimes God purposely gives us a wake-up call like this to remind us that we’re not gods. It’s like he stops us in our tracks and says, “I love you, but are you going to let me be in charge now?”
5. God is more concerned with who we are than with what we do
God works everything for our good, but “our good” is not necessarily our wealth or success or career glory.
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. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:28-29)
God’s ultimate purpose for your life is that you will be more like Jesus (“conformed to the image of his Son”). I couldn’t be like Jesus when I was resting on academics for my self esteem. So God thankfully took that away from me (I can say that now). It’s a life-long journey, and there are still times when God lovingly gives me that sort of tap on the shoulder. But I’m grateful, because Jesus is so much more awesome than anything else.
6. There is nothing too big for God to deal with, so pray, and pray, and... pray
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
At the moment you might not be able to see your future, but God can. So ask him to look after it. Here’s the sort of prayer I ended up praying:
OK, God. I don’t know what you’re doing here, and I’m struggling. But I know that you love me. I know that you’re in control of everything. Please help me to trust you now, even though everything seems so tough. Please help me to serve and follow you no matter what the future brings.
Instead of asking God what he wanted me to do, I’d been shoving my proud ideas in his face, and expecting God to just give automatic approval to my plans. It took a massive reality check for me to realise I wasn’t in control of my world. I needed to repent of my pride, and depend on the God who is in control of everything.
There was this old hymn that kept on turning around in my mind as I dealt with this issue:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace