Exams are hard. And when surrounded by nagging parents and teachers, it can often feel like they are all that matters. Crossing the bridge of those five marks between ‘that B’ and ‘that A’ can feel like we’re trying to tight-rope walk over the Grand Canyon. At the time of exams, the grades we hope to achieve can feel like a huge weight on our shoulders – they will narrow or widen our choices for the future, and for many that is a terrifying thought. But they are not the be all and end all.
Don’t get me wrong, exams are important. You will need to work hard and put as much effort in as you can – they do matter. However, they are hugely insignificant compared to your relationship with Jesus. The gap between exams and God is even larger than the gap between a B and an A! Although your teachers and your parents see bad grades as a something that belongs to children with poor attitudes to life, Jesus doesn’t mind one bit. Jesus’ love is unconditional, unmeasurable and eternal. He loves us loads, so much that he sacrificed his beloved son, for us.
Oxbridge may only be open to the clever people, but God offers something infinitely greater in eternal life and says “whoever believes” is welcome.
One of my favourite verses of the Bible, one that I feel best sums up the love of God, is John 3:16, which states that “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. The amazing bit about this verse is “whoever”. Your teachers may tell you that not achieving C or above will mean you are not permitted to higher education. But God says, anyone is welcome to a relationship with Him. Oxbridge may only be open to the clever people, but God offers something infinitely greater in eternal life, and says “whoever believes” is welcome. All you have to do is ask, and you will be accepted.
I know what you’re thinking. Eternal life is ages away! Exams are this year/month/week! The destiny of eternal life is super-duper but my destiny here on earth matters too! And you’re right. I’m sure a lot of you have plans set out for you. You want to go to University. You want to get a job in law. You want to get married, have four children and go to live in Australia. With all these goals that we set ourselves, not achieving them can seem like failure. This is where the wisdom and knowledge of God, and trusting in him, become important.
One verse of the Bible that I feel shows the ideal approach to exams is Proverbs 3:5 which says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”. That’s what we all need to do. God has His own plan for us, and it is often very different to ours. There is someone I know really well who, as a teenager, had no idea what he wanted to do when he grew up. All he knew was that he absolutely was not going to go into ministry. Five years later, he received his degree in theology at Oxford and became a curate at a church near Oxford. Another person, 10 years along the line, is a professor of theology at the college where he once studied, specialising in Christian history. This wasn’t their plan, but God is leading and using them.
The wonderful thing about God is that he loves us to such an extent that he has planned meticulously what he wants us to be and where he wants us to go. If you don’t get the grades you needed to achieve your personal goal, remember the ultimate goal here on Earth – to fulfil God’s purposes for us. In the midst of exam stress and pressure, remember the ultimate goal of life – to be with Jesus for eternity, rejoicing in never ending worship.
- That God will give you strength to persevere through the exam period
- That God will show you the path he intends you to follow and give you the strength to follow it
- That God will help you to remember the ultimate goal for life an help you to stick keep trusting in him through the highs and lows of life