Last time we looked at three amazing truths to encourage us in the midst of exams. We saw that we are children of God, and so have a new identity that doesn’t rely on exam success. We saw that our Father is in control, so we can have confidence that he is using all of the pressure and stress for our good. Finally we were reminded that we don’t have to earn his love – that any achievement (or lack of it) doesn’t affect God’s love for us, so we don’t have to prove ourselves to him.
That’s all very well, you might say, but how is this going to help me, really? What does it look like to live this out? Let’s take them one by one:
You are a child of God. What do children do with their parents? They talk about every little thing: their worries, their interests, their feelings. Does a little kid think his problems aren’t worth bothering his parents with? No – he asks them for help, because they’re his mum and dad. Jesus encourages us to talk to our Father in the same way: “how much more [than earthly parents] will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). So don’t let the pressure of exams stop you spending time with him. Instead, talk to him about everything. He’s your Father. He loves to listen.
Your Father is in control. God knew your exam timetable and the questions in the paper before the creation of the world. There may not be enough time to do the revision you feel you need; the questions might be terribly unfair. God is not surprised. Knowing this, it’s possible to relax (yes, really!). There’s nothing you can do about it, but that’s okay. Do what you can, then rest easy – whatever the result, your loving Father is still in control.
You don’t have to earn his love. Maybe you’ve been lazy throughout the year, and now it’s come back to bite you. You feel your difficulties are payback for your lack of studying, and so you kill yourself with work to make up for it. But God’s love is not earned. Yes, sin has its consequences (not studying sooner generally makes exams harder!), but your status before God is just as secure as before. Rest in his love – and then get to work, confident that God will keep loving you whatever the results.
Knowing God doesn’t lift you out of the stress. God being in control doesn’t mean he’ll give us an easy ride. But God is the God who sent his Son to join us in the mess and struggles of this world. He’s not a far removed kind of God, but a God who has come close to us in Jesus. Knowing this God in the midst of the stress can transform the whole experience, and speak volumes to those around us about where our confidence ultimately lies.