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God promotes

A Christian Science perspective: Low performance on standardized tests sometimes means a child must repeat a grade. How can children and parents deal with the disappointment that results, especially if they feel the tests are unfair?

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Thousands of third-graders at risk of being held back” headlines a story about students doing badly on standardized tests in my state, Florida. Suggested reasons for the poor performances are tougher grading, challenges at home, and unfamiliarity with English.

Having to repeat a grade can be disheartening to kids, their parents, and teachers, especially when the contributing factors seem unfair. Hopefully, measures will be taken to level the testing playing field. In the meantime, these setbacks needn’t leave a child forever behind. We have stellar examples, from Bible times to the present, proving that point.

When the prophet Samuel went to select Israel’s future king from among Jesse’s sons, they all lined up for review except the youngest, David, relegated by his father to the sheep pasture. Yet when brought forth at Samuel’s insistence, he was found to be the one most worthy of royal anointing. Later, David was again sidelined when his brothers went off to fight the Philistines. Yet the opportunity arose for him to successfully challenge the giant Goliath – and save his country (see I Samuel 16:1-13; 17:1-50).

In more modern times, it’s reported that young Beethoven was told he was a hopeless composer; that Thomas Edison’s behavior issues limited him to three years of formal education; and that Steven Spielberg was rejected from attending University of Southern California film school.

Undaunted by these negatives, all three went on to perform brilliantly in their fields, making major, lasting contributions to the world. Countless other people have impressively surmounted early disappointments through expressing diligence, perseverance, creativity, and a host of other productive qualities bestowed by God, the universal Giver of good. These individuals have proved there is no law of failure to stall one’s headway; rather, there is a divine law of progress that leads to success.

Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy, a high achiever despite many reversals, wrote that “progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 233). Claiming this spiritual law as the only governing force in life can help anyone break through restrictive conditions and find opportunities to use one’s talents. The Creator made man in His own image, expressing the fullness of His nature. Therefore, every individual has the God-given ability to overcome limited expectations or unfair circumstances.

Every goal may not be reached in the expected amount of time; but by patiently trusting God’s loving will, one can expect advancement – often in ways better than hoped for – at just the right pace. The Apostle Paul, whose extraordinary career still inspires, declared, “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). What a reassuring message to embrace for all children as they embark on their life journey.

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