It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and no, I’m not talking about Christmas. That’s right, it’s finals week!
I’m sorry, that probably isn’t actually the most accurate statement about finals week. What words could we replace “wonderful” with… Stressful? Crazy? Sleep deprived? This is probably how most of us experience finals week. But what if I told you this wasn’t how we have to feel coming into finals? Jesus is bigger than our finals. This is something most of us know somewhere in the back of our minds, but it isn’t something that is easy to feel in the midst of it all. But during seasons such as this, it is more important than ever to remember and to cling to the promises of God.
One of the most encouraging passages for me comes from the sermon on the mount. Its so good, in fact, that I’m going to write out the whole section, because Jesus communicates far more than I ever could through His words:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
Matthew 6:25-33 (ESV, emphasis added)
From the day I started following Jesus, this passage has been something I have continually run back to whenever things get overwhelming. It is a constant reminder of not only God’s all-sufficient power and sovereignty, but also of His love and desire to care for us. It shows not only that He can handle all of the troubles in our lives, but also that He wants to provide for us and that He will.
Are you not of much more value than the grass of the field and the birds of the air? God believes you are – in fact, He sees you as so valuable, He was willing to send His son to die for you. And if the creator of the universe loves us that much, how could we ever doubt that He would take care of us?
Now of course, this doesn’t quite mean we can say “Jesus loves me, therefore he will help me ace all my finals”. As nice as that would be, that’s just bad theology. The reality is, not everybody who follows Jesus aces their finals – or even passes them, for that matter. Yet regardless of your GPA, God has a plan for your life, and He is enough to see that His good will for you is done.
This is where we can find peace in the midst of finals – not in knowing that you are prepared for your finals, or in hoping you do well to pull up your grade in that one class you really need to do well in. But we find peace knowing that when Paul writes in Romans that “for those who love God all things work together for good”, he means it. We have a promise from God that all things are part of His plan for our lives, and that even when we can’t see it and it doesn’t feel like it, He is walking beside us and preparing the path before us.
Sometimes, it is hard to trust God when His plan for our life doesn’t line up with ours, or when the circumstances in our lives just don’t seem to make any sense to us at all. But God’s ways are higher than ours, and that is one of the very reasons I worship him. He knows what is best for us so much better than we ever could. Everything that happens to us, big and small, good and bad, is shaping us into the person He created us to be. And that is awesome.
In closing, I want to reinforce that I am in no way encouraging you to blow your finals because “God can work through any circumstances”. Please do study hard and try your best, but don’t stress. Go into this week with the assurance that no matter the outcome, God is with you every step of the way.