Today I had a message from my son's piano teacher to say that he hadn't passed his Grade 1 exam, which he sat a couple of weeks ago.
I wasn't expecting this: he worked really hard, and seemed to be playing well. He was calm on the day, and felt the exam had gone okay. I've never know anyone fail a music exam!
Of course, a ten year old failing a music exam is tiny when you think of the ocean of human suffering and sadness and grief - of sickness and pain, bereavement and loss, broken relationships and hurt.
I was still quite sad for him. He says he doesn't mind, but I think he cares a little more than he's letting on.
I know, in theory, that failing and then trying again builds character and perseverance - I would just rather that my own boy could have been spared this disappointment.
In reality, it also makes me face up to what really matters.
Education is more than exams - and we have had him take piano lessons as we think that learning a musical instrument is a good thing in itself - not just something that will look good on a U.C.A.S. application one day (if we ever get that far!).
Life will be full of setbacks and disappointments and real griefs. In the midst of all this, knowing that we have a loving, risen Saviour who cares for us and knows us and is with us is an immeasurable comfort.
I am a little sad for my boy - but I know that what Christianity offers is not a message of success and comfort now - but of joy and hope in the midst of all the difficulties of this world.
Missing a piano exam pass is a small sadness really. I hope that it will not just build a resilient attitude, but give us all a chance to remember that our hope is not in success in the ways in which the world measures, but in our risen Jesus.