Its that time of the year again where you can’t find a seat in the library, can’t down enough coffee, and can’t seem to memorize all the information that will be on the test. Its finals week, and as finals start this week or next for most of us, I had a thought go through my mind that I know many others have had, “What if my grades don’t turn out the way I want them to?” Every year finals roll around, and I get this huge weight on my chest and realize that my finals grade will determine the difference between the grade I need and the grade I have been dreading I will end up with. Then my mind races to my application for grad school, and how I won’t get in. And, not stopping there, it races to the fact that if don’t get into grad school, then why did I choose this major that I can’t do anything with, and before I know it, I have gotten to the point where I have no hope for the future before I have even taken the test itself. I think finals week is the point in the semester where we finally have to face the future head on and evaluate our preparedness, and we all tend to feel like we’ve hit a brick wall. But why do we feel this way just because a couple of tests? What is it about finals that stresses us out so much?
I would venture to say that during finals week we get tunnel vision and only look at ourselves, and what we can accomplish on our own, at least that is how it is for me. I say this because I tend to block every thing else out and focus strictly on what I can study and what I can memorize. Of course that is how studying is. It is between the information and myself, but the big mistake I make is that I forget that I have a God who is bigger than any final I will ever take. Yes, finals are stressful and strenuous, but most the time they become this way when we take our eyes off the source of our peace and strength.
Why does our future feel like a heavier burden that we are not ready to carry? Because we grabbed the full weight of it out of God’s hands and put it all in our own hands. The world wants to tell us we can make anything of our future, but do we really want the full responsibility of figuring all of that out on our own? I sure don’t. And at this time of the year, we forget that we have a God who has our entire future laid out, no matter what our GPA is. When we are focused on our self, we see an exam as the ultimate determinant of our future, but in reality, the only determinant of any outcome in our life is God’s will and sovereignty. If we do poorly on a final, God does not see that as set back that will hinder our future, but instead, he might use it as a way to show us that his plans are not dependent on a trivial exam.
So I want to challenge all of us as we head into this week or two of finals to let go of the worry and stress, and let God be your peace. Remember Matthew 11:28 which says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” When finals become more than you can bear, take a break. Go for a walk and talk to God. Tell him how you feel. Tell him how overwhelmed and underprepared you feel. Then listen to hear and feel the peace that he will remind you of and give to you. When you are packing up to study, don’t just pack your books for class, but pack your Bible as well. Be in constant prayer. Maybe throw in some comforting verses in the midst of your flashcards that will remind you of his faithfulness. As Corrie ten Boom said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” God has a plan for our lives, and a test grade will not stand in the way of it. So study as hard as you can, do the best you can on every final you take, and then rest in the peace of God and the fact that he determines your future and not the results from finals week.