A few weeks ago, I wrote a post “How do we glorify God with our study?” Now that exam is here, I thought I follow that post up with one specific to exam. So, how do we glorify God with our exam? You are in the middle of your study right now, and you caught yourself surfing the web because you are distracted. So, let me make it quick so you can get back to your facebook … oops your study again. Just three points. Pardon any grammatical mistakes. Here we go.
1. Give it your best.
Yes, this is practically the same point as the other post. No, I am not creative. No, this is not original. But yes, this is the right point. Again, it is not about your final grades. It is not about whether you do better than your friends. Getting good grades might be satisfying. But, it is not all about grades. If your grade is not as good as your friends’, by no means you glorify God less … unless you get worse grades because you let yourself distracted a lot, and you did not use your time well to prepare for the exam.
Giving it your best also means you manage your time properly. It also means you arrange your priorities during these weeks so that you can focus on reviewing the materials. Decide now what you need to let go during these few weeks so you can give more time for your preparation. Don’t just say, “I will prioritize!” Decide now, and put it into action.
It also means you organize your time so you can have meaningful rest during the night. In fact, you should do that not only during exam time… (I mean … not during exam… but during exam weeks … not during your actual exam …) … anyway …
However, one mistake that many students make during exam is that they cut themselves off from any enriching relationships during exam time, which leads me to the next point.
2. Don’t Compartmentalize Your Spiritual Life
Many Christians do let go of their spiritual disciplines during exam. They stop going to small groups or fellowship groups. They do pray more, inevitably, chiefly for their exam, but they read the Bible less, perhaps thinking that the Bible reading will mess up with whatever they have memorized for the exam. Some even take leave of absence from Sunday services.
Friends, if this is you, I am afraid you have successfully ‘compartmentalized’ your spiritual life. To you, spiritual discipline, or spiritual life is just one area of your life that you need to juggle among many other priorities. Perhaps to you, God is something that you can switch on and off in your life depending on what’s pressing in your life at the moment. Friends, if God is not at the front and center of your life during exam, it is just a matter of time you will dim Him even more, if not forever, when other more stressful circumstance comes your way.
Now, of course God is a gracious and merciful God. He is not a God who will throw tantrum at you just because you have not read His word for a couple of days. He is not a God who will throw some curse at you because you skip Sunday services. I think God is a good, gracious, merciful, loving, slow to anger, and abounding in love. The problem is not with God. The problem, I think, is with us. God is always extending His hand wanting to refresh you, rejuvenate you, and to strengthen you. He does that through the preaching of His message, the meditation of His Word, and the fellowship of believers. Sadly, we neglect some, if not all, of them during this exam time.
God is delighted if you continue to express your trust in Him by still clinging unto Him during this exam time. God is glorified by you not putting Him at the backburner when situation demands something else at your main engine. God is glorified when you can still selflessly bless other believers with your presence and your encouragement during the exam weeks.
“But Sandy, if I still go to church, still go to fellowship groups, etc, I cannot get grades as well as I would have.” I hear you… but I beg to differ. Practically, and realistically, if you get worse grades when you are faithfully coming to Sunday services and doing your other spiritual disciplines, I am convinced that it is not because of those spiritual disciplines. Honestly, they don’t take too much of your time, don’t they? If anything, I think you should take inventory of what other things you are distracted with during exam. But of course, when the grade comes, you might say, “I am only one point short to get an H1 (or HD) … if only I had not gone to church that one fateful Sunday, I would have got an HD… (fist in the air, thunder roars, lightning strikes…)”
This leads us to the last point.
3. Be Content with Your Result
I know. It’s easy for me to say. But really. Glorifying God with our exam also means we can still praise and give Him thanks for whatever grades we get. Of course, if your lecturer deducted your mark wrongly, you can organise an appointment and appeal for that one or two points to boost your CPI. But that’s beside the point.
Many times, Christians think that they can glorify God by what they can achieve or by what they can produce. Basically they think they can glorify God by whatever they can control. However, I think that kind of understanding is not far at all from being wrong. If anything, God is most glorified when we can still thank, trust, and love Him even in circumstances that are outside of our control and/or in results that are contrary to what we expect.
Now, it does not mean that you then use this time not studying, get bad marks, and then praise Him and thank Him and be content with your result. If that’s you, three things you should do: (1) Read point one above, (2) Give me your parents’ number, and (3) Wait for your parents’ call. Oh, did I say that you would be testing God too? … which is not very glorifying at all. But I digress…
Being content means that you trust that God is good and that this good God has allowed you to get that grade, and that this good God will still take care of your future with or even despite that grade. Being content also means that you don’t put your security in your grades. Rather, you praise God for the semester of studying, you thank God for allowing you to grow in knowledge, and you trust God that your future is secure in Him. God is glorified when the world can see that Christians put their hope securely in God, not in what the world can offer, and that His children have 100% confidence in the goodness of their Heavenly Father.
So … all the best with your exam. May God be glorified with your exam.