Coping with exam stress
What's your strategy for getting through the HSC?
Do you have a strategy for coping with stress this year? As you travel through the last few months of your school life, and as you head towards that last big hurdle called exams (my youth group leader used to call it 'the big quiz'), how are you dealing with all the stress and worry that comes up?
Hebrews 4:1-13 speaks about rest. It reminds us that on the 7th day of creation, God rested. It reminds God's people of their Sabbath, the one day a week when they rested. It speaks of God's people entering the promised land as their rest. It looks forward to heaven as the big rest that we're looking forward to. God wants his people to rest.
But how can you rest, when you've got so much study to do!?!? I can't make you rest, but I can tell you why God wants his people to rest.
- Rest reminds us that the universe is much, much bigger than the HSC. Rest gives us God's eternal perspective. Rest in Hebrews 4 is a picture of heaven. When we rest, we remind ourselves that a day is coming when Jesus will return, and God will take his people home, where there will be no more 'death, mourning, crying or exams' (not quite Revelation 21…).
- Rest reminds us that we are not as in control as we think we are. When you stop working in order to rest, what happens? The world keeps turning. Time keeps ticking. Things keep happening. You can't control those things, and rest reminds us of that fact. And while that is kind of scary for you Year 12's, it's also strangely reassuring: your HSC result is in God's hands. That doesn't mean you don't have to study! But it does mean that your result is not as dependant on your work as teachers make it out to be.
- Rest reminds us that we are not God, but we are made in his image. God, who is in control of everything … he rested. If God took time to rest, without all of creation falling apart, then it's not going to end the world if we rest. One of the many reasons why I love my Senior Minister is that he encourages us to take an extra day off every now and then, to just go away, rest from work and spend time focussing on God. And you know what? My work doesn't fall apart. My plans don't crumble in a miserable heap. Things keep happening.
So rest! Plan to take time off each week, where study and exams and worry are left behind. I reckon Youth Group, Bible Study groups and Church are winners for this very reason.
Lastly, don't miss the warning in Hebrews 4. A whole bunch of people in the history of God's people missed out on entering God's eternal rest, because though they heard the message, they did not combine it with faith. They hardened their hearts. So rest! And keep listening to God.