Results. 2017 has been a year full of people waiting on results. Trump or Clinton. May or Corbyn.  And for you, on A level results day, going to the university of your choice, or going through clearing, or maybe taking a completely different life path, even if for a short time. It feels as though the rest of your life depends on the contents of an envelope. And yes, I’ll be there with my own daughter, nervously waiting, ready to congratulate or console. 

Thursday morning will certainly be a game of two halves. There will be those who have logged on to their UCAS track as soon as it updates and will be going into school to collect their results with relief and the assurance that no matter what the paper says, freshers’ week is beckoning. For others, the news will not be so good. For whatever reason, the grades didn’t match what the universities wanted and, right at that moment, you can feel like one of the ‘have-nots’ Oh, people will tell you that it’s not the end of the world, but right there, right then, the disappointment and frustration will be very real and, probably, acutely painful.

Now, at this point, I could pluck out a Bible verse about God having a plan for us and turn it into a Christian meme with a photo of a cute animal or maybe a waterfall, but I can just hear my Bible college lecturers screaming: “Noooooo!” If we call ourselves followers of Jesus, then we do believe that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives. However, the reality is that God’s plan and our plan don’t always coincide. Sometimes, what we may interpret as failure can be God’s way of getting us in line with his design. Forget the Christian memes. More helpful would be to read the first chapter of the book of James. He talks about when (not if) troubles and challenges come our way. He talks about perseverance building our faith and making us into mature people of God. And he talks about God blessing those who persevere under trial and testing.

Now for the practical part. If you end up having to retake or even having a major rethink, there are some great things you could do with a year out. If you wanted to explore some kind of Christian work, there are loads of opportunities for mission-based activities without ever leaving the UK. Contact some of the national movements like Scripture Union, Urban Saints, YFC or Pais (or the many others I don’t have room to list here) and check out their various schemes. Maybe take some time to discover God’s plan for your life while serving him and expanding your CV.

My prayer for you on results day is that you can see God in whatever grades you achieve; that you seek him first and define yourself not by the letters on a results sheet but by the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus as your Lord.

Robin Gerrard is a church and community development worker for Scripture Union in North West England.