The first cries of a new born baby pronounce him/her having ‘passed’ the examination of healthy normalcy. Wow!! What an age to begin appearing for exams!! Poor little infant doesn’t even know that the series of examinations has only just begun!
And from then on, no shying away from appearing for the exams that life doles out at various stages in myriad ways!
When I was preparing for the Indian Civil Service examination, the enormity of the syllabus overwhelmed me. The prescribed syllabus was just a pointer to practically everything under the sun. That’s why there goes a common expansion to the acronym UPSC as Un-Predictable Service Commission 🙂 (it’s actual expansion is Union Public Service Commission). The syllabus is unpredictable, the questions are unpredictable and the result is the most unpredictable of all!! But, still lakhs of aspirants from all over India slog to compete for this exam each year and many don’t quit till the last attempt is over.
Unlike educational exams, the tests of life are not choices that we tend to make voluntarily. Life’s examinations are the results of permutations and combinations that we find ourselves a part of. No matter how challenging or alarming, the tests of life are elusive to none. The interesting outcome of life’s examinations is that one still proceeds on to the next stage of life irrespective of the result. So you see, unlike career examinations, success and/ or failure cannot and do not stop life from moving ahead. But yes, they do impact how life moves ahead.
Who is the Examiner?
Though it might be tempting to believe that God conducts all of life’s examinations and He is the one who would give us the certificates with the remarks ‘pass’ or ‘fail’, ‘well done’ or ‘you need to work harder’, it is not true. To give an example, a person driving on the highway sees the wide smooth road ahead and seeing no sight of man or vehicle decides to accelerate the speed beyond the limits. In no time there appears a vehicle from the opposite direction and baaaaanggg – both vehicles collide!!! The driver gets arrested for overspeeding, has to pay a hefty penalty and his driving license is suspended for a three months. To conclude that God put this driver through a tough examination is absurd.
There are many such struggles in our lives which we drag ourselves into either because of our faulty thinking and decision making or at the behest and provocation of others. Though God does not lead us into such wrestling matches, He sure is the Shepherd to steer us out into pleasant pastures if we admit our folly and choose to seek His help. (God never imposes His help on anybody)
However, there are some other examinations that God in His wisdom allows in our lives. They may be the likes of sickness, unemployment, difficult marriages, childlessness, an intolerable boss, job posting away from home, special needs children, poverty, affluence (yes, even prosperity and affluence test us) and many such ordeals over which we seem to have no say. There can be three human responses to these rough winds that blow on our faces.
- To curse God and lose faith in Him.
- To take things in our own stride
- To surrender to His will and seek His intervention.
When we choose to respond in the first way, i.e., blame God for our difficulties and turn away from Him, it fills our lives with bitterness and self-pity, creates inroads for addictions and sicknesses and ultimately drives us into self-destruction. Life goes on, but with emptiness.
When we take things in our own stride without blaming God but not wanting His assistance to tide over the rough patches either, we tend to lose time and efforts in trial and error strategies – going round and round weighing the options and thinking of probable correct answers and sometimes even failing to hit at the solution.
However when we rely on God and seek His intervention, He does the impossible in our lives. Yes, the impossible! Or miracles, if you would like to think that way. Test Him on this if you will and you will know for yourself.
I remember reading about a God-fearing affluent person who lost a majority of his wealth in one day. To add to his misfortune, the roof collapsed and killed all his children while they were partying at a venue. In course of time, he developed a kind of incurable skin ailment which filled his body with sores and stinking pus. Even when his wife smirked at his foolishness for holding on to his faith in God in spite of all the struggles that they have had to go through, he did not let go of God. Things continued that way for a long time, after which gradually God blessed him and restored his health, wealth and blessed him with children to fill the void in his household.
Not all events of seeking God’s intervention in life’s examinations result in such tangible successes, however. At times, struggles go upto the very last breath with alternating jostling episodes of leaning towards God and withdrawing from Him in utter frustration and helplessness. In such times, the deliverance from such continuous phases of examination can be experienced only in eternity.
If you are going through a bitter life trial which you find difficult to endure or escape from, I entreat you to put your faith in God and see the difference for yourself.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”