IF YOU HAVE FAILED….
Dr. Duke Jeyaraj
The results are out. And you are down and out. The reason? You’ve failed. Flunked. Your friends who’ve passed with flying colours call you up to ask how much you’ve scored. And you turn sour. Or it is possible that you failed to make it to the Medical college by just one mark. Or that Engineering seat in a coveted college by a whisker. How do you deal with such a predicament? Such heart-breaking pain? Here are some Bible-baked steps you might want to consider:
1. DO NOT CONDEMN YOURSELF!
If it is true that you have tried hard and if it is true that you have done your best, then— please listen — do not condemn yourself. Swim away from thoughts of suicide! If Jesus is the “author of life,” who are you to take it away? (Acts 3:15). After having failed in our exams why should we fail in our faith also (by committing suicide)?
Jesus has already prayed that we must not! (Lk 22:32).I invite you to see the sad scenario of your flop in the exams, God’s way. Who said that 40 was pass and 39 marks was fail? It was man. The Education Board, correct? How does God view things? Hit the rewind button on the Parable of the Talents that Jesus narrated and you will get to know. The one who is given ten talents is rewarded for getting another ten. The one who had just one talent was taken to task for not bringing any. The point Jesus was making was this: You’ve got to do your best with what is given you and that is what will count on the Big Day of Judgment!
Suppose, if the fellow who was given five brought in just four, according to Jesus he would not have been “good and faithful.” Let’s switch back to the talk about examinations and marks. If you have had the God-given IQ to score those steep 90s but scored hey-that-is-more-than-enough 70% because of your laziness, God will tell you that you have not been “faithful.” The world may go bananas over such students, but God will not be impressed. Not one bit. Absolutely! According to His plumb line you have “failed.” On the other hand if you had the Heaven-endowed capacity to score just 35% and you burned the midnight oil to make a 39%, all of Heaven will stand to give you a thunderous applause! Celestial cheers will certainly await you! If the academic world and your parents brand you as a failure in such a case, take it in your stride. What God thinks about you only finally counts (Gal 1:10). You have not failed in God’s eyes! (I have borrowed this brilliant thought from Aunty Lillian Stanley.)
2. DO NOT BE CASUAL HEREAFTER!
If you¶ve goofed up in your exams, take a good look at what you had done in the academic year that has just gone by. And analyse how you have passed the time. Ask yourself these questions (it does not matter if they make you sit on pins and needles): Have I been casual in my approach to studies? Have I taken things too
lightly? Have I been over-confident? Tried to crack and consume the entire syllabi the night before the exam and hoped that God would give me a photographic memory? Merely glanced through the worked-out problems/numericals a few times out instead of solving them step-by-step time and again?
A Bible story comes to my mind at this juncture. The story of the tiny town Ai defeated the mighty Israelites who had just soundly beaten Jericho “and all its mighty warriors” (Josh 6:2). The spies who returned from inspecting the miniature city of Ai cockily had said, “It’s a small town, and it won’t take more than two or three thousand of us to destroy it. There¶s no need for all of us to go there” (Josh 7:3). That presumptuous attitude was the reason for the prompt defeat. May I humbly suggest that it is quite possible that the reason for your failure in your entrance exams or school-final is your over-confident attitude? God allows defeats in our lives to teach us lessons which we will not learn otherwise (Check out Lev 26:17 & Dt 28:25). You know it.
Or check if you have copied in your exams—an ungodly thing to do for which we can have no excuse whatsoever — in a desperate attempt to pass. But when the results came your heart skipped a beat— you had miserably failed. Gamaliel told those who were working overtime to oppose the followers of Jesus not to break into a sweat. His logic was this: that which is not of God will automatically fail (Acts 5:38). Any of our efforts outside the will of God to µsomehow pass is bound to ultimately fail too. Even if you have passed after having copied, that doesn’t make it right, buddy. Repent and ask God to cleanse you. Never do it again.
Drape yourself with a dogged determination to work hard as you get ready to take your exams again. “Hard work never killed anybody,” our School Principal often told us. And I found it to be true when I put in those late nights of hard work to pass my calculus paper! “Nothing is so common as unsuccessful men with talent. They lack only determinination,” wrote Charles Swindoll. He was right. The next time you have a crack in the same set of exams you have flunked, cut away all the unnecessary and excessive TV-watching, internet-browsing and music-listening. Concentrate. It will show in your results if you do. Surely!
3. DO NOT BE CLOSE-MINDED!
Just because you did not make the grade in the Medical College, you need not blindly conclude that you should stay at home and take a shot at the Medical entrances the next year out. You don’t have to jump to such close-minded options! The world we live in is big. The options available before the students are diverse. If it is true that God’s got variant life-plans for each of us, then it is definitely not possible that all of us should necessarily end up as medical doctors. Or engineers. God’s plan for Jeremiah wasn’t the same as His plan for Ezekiel. Or God would not swap His plan for Paul with what He had worked out for Peter. Oh yes! God chose Jeremiah to prophecy to the people of Judah left behind in Judah after the Babylonians invaded them, while God had Ezekiel prophecy to the people of Judah who were carried away into exile in Babylon—did you know? (Read Jeremiah 29:11). Paul was to preach to the non-Jews while Peter was to go after the Jews in God¶s scheme of things.
North India’s Christian colleges look for applications from Christian students. Who knows? You—a believer from South India or the North East—may be God¶s Moses or a Daniel or an Esther—in your campus. A vast majority of 799 Universities, 39,701 colleges and 11,923 standalone institutions, especially the ones in the North, do not have a campus Bible study group as yet. Esther, a Jew, went to Persia to join its National Institute of Fashion Technology! (Esther 2:12).
Moses joined ranks with the Egyptian University! (Acts 7:22). God gave Daniel and his pals who studied in the far-from-home Babylonian University “knowledge and skill in both books and life” (Dan 1:17, The Message). I studied in Uttar Pradesh’s Allahabad when I could have settled down to study in Vellore my hometown or close-by Chennai itself. And like Daniel and his pals I too learnt “both books and life.” My burden for bringing Christ and His Word to today’s trendy youth was born in that needy campus in the heart of North India. If I just sat and sulked when I failed to get into a college with my preferred branch of Engineering, just think what I would have missed!
Listen—We have got a God who has never once failed. In anything (1 Chr 28:20). And you can bet that He will carry us through the tumultuous times such as plus two exam failures and preferred-course entrance exam flops.
(Dr. Duke Jeyaraj, an Agri Engineer turned Doctor of Ministry graduate of SABC, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Gen from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a reader supported Indian ministry. Find out more at www.dukev.org or by liking www.facebook.com/dukebook or by subscribing to http://www.youtube.com/visitduke. Note: This article originally appeared in Blessing magazine, years ago).