On Monday morning I wrote an article for our local paper’s Church Corner (the deadline is 2pm). As we are invited to write about something topical, I thought I would say my bit about the A level results fiasco. I am pleased though, that as I prepare this to publish on Wednesday that there is news of the government doing a U-turn and the teachers’ estimates will be used. I wonder if the paper will still publish it. I am on retreat as I prepare this (on Monday evening) and will be scheduling it to publish on Wednesday. I am so glad that they saw sense and that prayers and pleas were heard.
Awaiting the results of exams is always a tense time. But this year has been extraordinarily stressful. 280,000 pupils (40%) had their ‘A’ level marks downgraded leading to fears about their future. For some, universities have agreed to honour their places, but not for others, many of whom feel that their future has been snatched away. Anger was fuelled by the sense of powerlessness. An impersonal algorithm, over which they have no real control, might have ruined many an ambition.
As a Christian, I have two responses to this. First, I feel anger and dismay at the injustice of the system which arbitrarily downgraded pupils from state schools in certain areas. I pray for the government to intervene so that justice and mercy are seen. On behalf of the students and their families I pray from psalm 71 “In you, O Lord, do I seek refuge: let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, deliver me from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the evildoer and the oppressor.”
Secondly, I pray that the individuals concerned will come to know that God has not been taken by surprise and will guide them through this. He is in the business of transformation and resurrection, bringing good out of bad situations. God knew them before they were born, as psalm 139 reminds us: “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (vs16). This does not mean some sort of pre-destination. We have free will and we are at the mercy of others’ free will. However it does mean that God is with us and for us when life throws up difficulties.
We are not alone. Whenever I face difficulties I remember Proverbs 3 verses 5 & 6: ”Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Also, Romans 8: 28 “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” I hope the students will be able to trust in God to see them through this very difficult time.