It’s almost finals week again. The weather is (finally) warming up, and the last thing you probably want to do is study. There is just something about finals in the spring—they seem like the only thing holding you back from summer.
There are those of you who hate finals week. It causes anxiety and panic over trying to remember everything you learned over the course of sixteen weeks. In juxtaposition, there are those of you who, like me, love finals week. For me, finals week was this weird combination of stress and fun. Everyone is in the same boat together, suffering through inner turmoil. It is done together, and it creates an odd sense of community, even with those you don’t know. Professors and students alike are trudging along together, longing for summer, yearning for a break.
1. Remember your attitude during finals reflects your relationship with God.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). Your relationship with the Lord is reflected in your work ethic. If you have put your faith in Christ, then your purpose in life is to glorify the Lord in all that you do. Your work ethic should look different—even if you are taking your least favorite class this semester. Yes, that exam is probably worth a large percentage of your final grade. Though, to glorify the Lord, you should strive to do your best. But when all is done, the grade is still just one grade. It will not change your standing before the Lord—no matter how high or how low.
2. Remember to look to Jesus, not your neighbor.
There’s nothing like the end of the semester to bring out that idol of comparison. Anxiety runs rampant when we think that anything other than Jesus can bring us value. The author of Hebrews tells us to lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely and to run the race set before us looking to Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). So, what does that mean for you during finals? Look to Jesus. Your identity is not wrapped up in that ‘one grade’. Don’t forget in the midst of reading, writing, and test-taking that Christ went to the grave for you.
3. Remember to sleep. You are not God.
For these two weeks, every college student tries to prove that he or she can function on minimal amounts of sleep. To excel during exams, you need to be well rested. Studies show that getting a good night’s sleep consistently during exam week leads to better performance on test day. You may be tempted to push the bounds of sleep and drink copious amounts of caffeine to survive—this is against your biblical design. That all-nighter doesn’t do you any good if you fall asleep during the test. The Psalmist tells us that “it is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:1-2). He gives you sleep! Sleep is a built-in reminder that we are not God. Your dedication and work to the glory of God throughout the semester is going to come to fruition during finals week. Let your long-term memory encode as you sleep. So, steward your time well and work with excellence for his glory, not for your own.
4. Remember, you are not alone.
Finals week cultivates an aspect of community on college campuses because everyone is in the same trench together. Your community doesn’t go away just because you are busy studying for finals. Lean into your community in the midst of all the studying. We are created to bear one another’s burdens—that includes end of the semester stress. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). While countless hours studying in the corner of a coffee shop may make you feel isolated, you are not.
5. Remember the semester isn’t the end.
Finals mark the end of the semester, and for many, that means saying goodbyes to friends who have walked this road with you. Paul calls us all to, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim 4:2). May you use the last weeks of your semester well. Don’t become so caught up in finishing assignments that you forget you are still surrounded by people who need the gospel.
So, whether you are sitting at The Green Bean with a Chai or your classroom feverishly writing an essay question for your final, you are loved and seen by the God of the universe. Keep your eyes fixed on Him!
-Amy Overton (College Team)