My youngest daughter (who gives permission for me to share this story) has been battling severe test taking anxiety. She can make herself sick with nerves about taking tests, especially math tests. We've spent so many days looking into therapeutic solutions, creating strategies, and talking through positive self-talk before going into the tests. In her mind, so much is at stake, and she is just afraid.
Today, she had another math test, and last night, we all prayed for God's guarding peace as promised in Philippians 4:6. You know the famous verse: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus."
We ask God to guard her with His peace, and we thank Him for allowing her to simply show what she has learned on this test.
(That's all a test is: showing what you have learned. It's OK to fail a test; this just means you have more to learn for next time.)
I drop her off, kiss that little forehead, and say, "I don't know what else to tell you about all this test stress. I just know that God is with you. No matter what happens, Jesus is right there with you."
At pick up time, she emerges from the school doors so full of joy. She reports, "It was easy! I finished the test first! I didn't have any problem!"
I ask her: What made the difference? Was it the self-talk, the deep-breathing, the strategies (all good things)? What made the difference, and what could I tell others about what worked for you?
She says firmly and clearly: "God was with me. That's it."
Oh, what we can do when we know God is with us! It changes everything.
We will remember this day when she knew God was with her. Today it was a math test. Tomorrow it might be something else. I want her (and me) to store up a lifetime of days when we accomplished something we didn't think we could do because God was with us, guarding us with His peace.