If you ask my parents they will say, ‘Jason doesn’t do enough work for his exams’. This is of course a blatant attempt by adults to get a reluctant teenager moving!
Nevertheless, I amfacing exams – so let’s talk about being a Christian in the exam situation.
Are exams important?
Yes! After telling you how little work my parents think I do, I am now going to tell you that you should be working hard for your exams. So why should we put all our effort into our exams?
The simple answer is that to work diligently is a witness to others. In my class at school I am one of very few who are revising for the exams. This is a real witness to people. Perhaps I don’t do as much as I should, but others facing exams know how hard it is to revise and they admire anyone who will go against the social climate and work.
My school friends know I’m a Christian. My colours are firmly nailed to the mast. If I stand up and say that the Son of God came to earth to save sinners – and then I don’t do an iota of work for my exams – I will look a hypocrite.
Now you may or may not care much about exams and what they mean for your future, but do everything you can to avoid discrediting the gospel. We have enough of that from so-called Christians on TV and radio who claim that the Bible is false.
If not discrediting the gospel means making an effort and putting yourself out, then don’t hesitate.
Don’t let exams run your life
You must work and sustain your witness. But there is a danger of becoming too preoccupied with exams (or career or whatever) to take the time to think of others – to help the old lady who lives next door or to show kindness to those around you. That also discredits the gospel.
I hope you attend your church’s midweek and evangelistic meetings. If you don’t, I would strongly urge you to get along. You must not let the excuse of studying get you into the habit of not meeting with God’s people.
First it will be the midweek meeting that goes. Then it’s a slippery slope to missing church on a Sunday. Once you get out of the habit of regular attendance it’s very hard to get back. And it won’t just be exams that get in the way; all sorts of other things will seem more important than going to church.
The daily quiet time
Mark 1:35 says that Jesus went to a solitary place to pray and be with God. He had just spent a busy Sabbath preaching and telling people the way of salvation. People were looking for him and he was facing another very busy day as folk came to him for healing.
But even when his life was so hectic he didn’t neglect his time in the morning with God. No matter what you are doing you must spend time with God. Jesus did – his relationship with the Father was such that even physical exhaustion couldn’t stop him.
We need to follow Jesus’ example. He was by far the wisest man that ever lived. If anyone didn’t need a quiet time it was he. But he did not neglect his daily time with God. Neither should we.
If we are going to do exams (or anything else) for God’s glory we need to be in tune with what God wants and what he is telling us through the daily reading of his Word.
Older readers may smile. That’s all we hear these days – exam stress and young people moaning about it. But believe it or not exams areincredibly stressful. With the amount you have to learn, and parents fretting over your chances of success, you can get very wound up and stressed.
But how to deal with it? The world has many ways to lessen stress. Some are strange, some confusing and others downright bad. But we don’t need all that stuff. We don’t need to imagine we’re in a field with lots of fluffy sheep. Christians have something far more powerful.
We have God as our Helper. He is outside of time, outside the limitations of our human body and mind, and outside the emotions we feel. But at the same time, in Christ, he has felt what we feel. Jesus has been through much worse than we could ever imagine.
He knows how we feel. He loves us and he will help us through everything – by his Holy Spirit, the Helper, who dwells within us. He brings ‘the peace of God which surpasses all understanding [and which] will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:7).
Finally, get together with other Christians who are facing the same pressures of life as you. Get together regularly and pray together. Get your church to pray for you and bear you up before God. If we believe that God works through prayer, and if we believe that God listens to us, then let’s get together and pray.
This is not just for students. It’s for everyone facing tough things in daily life. Look at the bigger picture. God is both gracious and mighty – praise his name!