I Failed The CFA Level 1 Exam, God is Good

On June 7th, 2014, I sat for one of the biggest tests of my life.  6 months prior, I had embarked on one of the most grueling and intense journeys I could have ever embarked on.  After nearly 250 hours of study and preparation, I was going to take the CFA Level 1 exam, hoping that I could be part of the 40% average pass rate for this test. Boy was I wrong.

The test was difficult, and I often found myself saying 1 of three things throughout the exam: “I should have studied more”, “Out of all the questions they could of asked on this topic, they chose this?!?!”, and finally “Why did I ever decide to take the CFA?”.  As you can guess from the title, when I received my result on July 29th, I was informed that I had failed.  I went through the stages of anger, disappointment, and an acute case of teary eyes.

I had told myself before the exam results that, whether I passed or not, I would write a post on the exam and God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout this journey. This post is about 2 weeks later than it should of been, and that’s primarily because of my own bitterness, frustration and discouragement.

Many times, I only recognize God’s goodness when its convenient for me, when it aligns with what I think should happen in my life.  But what happens when comfort and convenience isn’t “good” for me, how do I respond.  I surely don’t say God is good, because my real “god” is comfort, convenience, and my limited understanding of what I think is “good”.

After failing the test, to say I was discouraged is an understatement. Even now, I’m still upset.  I studied, prayed, and felt confident going into the exam room, how could God not allow me to have the desires of my heart? How could he not give me what is “good”?

The book of Romans is my favorite book in the Bible, and my favorite chapter is 8. In it is one of the most profound verses on the purpose for my life, and yours:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”- Romans 8:28-30

For most of my life, I only quoted verse 28, seeing God as a provider for my benefit. I’d say “God, I love you and I know you’ve called me according to your purpose, but my situation doesn’t seem to be good, how can this be?” I’d have second thoughts about my identity in Christ, whether I really love God or have been called for his purpose.  Failing this exam caused me to read beyond verse 28 and question whether I believe God is good in each and every circumstance, both convenient and not.

God works for the good of those who love him, but not so that we can past tests, have our birthday plans go smoothly, or so that we can get that job or award.  God is after something much better.  He works to conform us to the image of his son Jesus Christ.  It isn’t that God isn’t listening, or isn’t concerned with the personal details of your life, and I definitely don’t think we should only see God as good when he does things we see as beneficial.  What is most important is being more like Jesus everyday.

When I look back at my study habits, I devoted so much time and effort into this test, but was I reading the Word, or praying consistently? No. Am I saying that if I would have, God would have allowed me to pass? No. What I am saying is that it is for God’s honor and glory that I failed.  That God doesn’t always grant us the desires of our hearts so that we would learn to worship Him as our provision instead of worshipping what he provides.  That Jesus Christ is my provision, and that I should desire him more knowing that God will continue to work for my good by making me more like Jesus.  Conforming to the image of Jesus isn’t possible without suffering, without perseverance, or without a struggle. This journey isn’t easy, but God is good and faithful.  He’ll continue his good work until it’s finally completed in glorification.

4 Comment

  1. Paul says: Reply

    Nice Blog Mike. CFA is a killer exam … I know folks who still fail in the 30s to 40s age group.
    you’re a better analyst for having even had the discipline to put the time in to study. We all have bad days right ?

    1. Thanks Paul! Yea, we all have bad days. I was hoping to leverage the results into an entry level finance position, I’ll just have to work harder.

  2. Michael says: Reply

    Amazing well written article! God will grant you the desires of your heart in His time!

  3. The Jewelry Store says: Reply

    Nice article, It was practical.

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