Thursday of Week 25 in Ordinary Time
“All is vanity! For all his toil, his toil under the sun, what does man gain by it?”
For many students like me, we know the societal importance of academic excellence – as a stepping-stone and gateway to good career prospects. We feel satisfied and accomplished when our hard work has finally paid off and produced fruits. Many of us have experienced our parents flaunting our academic achievements to other parents and our relatives, so we may feel the expectation to continue doing well in our studies to keep our parents and relatives proud of us. Or we may have received admiration and envy from our friends, when they compliment us for being the top in class.
But in the midst of chasing paper grades, there was once a point in time when I realised that I did not feel happy. Sure, I was still doing well in my academic studies. But I wondered whom I was studying for. Was I getting good grades so that I could get external validation from people around me? Or was I getting good grades to secure a future for myself? But life felt meaningless and empty when I tried to live for myself.
I came across what Jesus said in the book of Matthew, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” I started changing my perspective from doing well in tests for myself to performing in my academic studies so that I can give glory to God, for He has given me many talents, for instance, a talent of good memory. He gives different talents to different people, so I should use mine to glorify Him. If I do well in my examinations, I believe that God is certainly proud of me, even if He does not reward me with the latest iPhone model. But if I don’t do well, Jesus will certainly not punish me by not buying for me the iPhone model. Instead, if I am lazy in my studies, then I would have already committed the sin of slothfulness. But if I struggled hard to understand the concepts and therefore did not manage to perform well in my tests, I believe that I would still have glorified Him in one way or another.
Therefore, I realize that we should not take our academic grades for granted, and we should always thank God for the talents and gifts that He has bestowed upon us. Indeed, if we study for God and with God, we shall gain not just by our own efforts, but by God’s abundant graces as well.
(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)
Prayer: Dear Lord, please help us to remember that by Your grace, we have talents and gifts. Help us to glorify and give credit to You when we achieve successes in life. Help us to remember that we can do nothing without You. And please help all of us students who are studying for the upcoming major national examinations. If we do not get good grades, please give us the grace to not despair, but to persevere and strengthen Your gifts and talents that You have given us. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank You for being generous with Your gifts and talents that You have bestowed upon us. When we get good grades, thank you for the gifts and talents that You have given us that help us to score well. When we get bad grades, thank you for being merciful to us, and for allowing us to strengthen our talents and gifts even though we may not have performed well during our tests. Amen.