An excerpt from a piece by Greg Sterling, Dean of Yale Divinity School
These are challenging times, but they are not times for despair. In Romans 5:3-5, the apostle Paul described how hope is produced in us. I was taken aback the first time I read it. He wrote that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope. I would have altered the order and said that suffering produces hope and hope produces endurance and endurance produces character. Why did Paul place hope last in this list of four? The hope that we have is not hope in ourselves, but hope in God. It is only when we realize that we cannot do everything ourselves (a lesson we learn in suffering), when we resist (endure), and are shaped by these experiences (character) that we fully understand the power and the strength of God in our lives. Martin Luther King understood this when he wrote: “In the midst of outer dangers I have felt an inner calm and known resources of strength that only God could give. In many instances I have felt the power of God transforming the fatigue of despair into the buoyancy of hope.” May we hold on to our confidence in God. It is not a naïve confidence, but a confidence born out of suffering, endurance, and character. Thank you for your continuing support. May we all pray for one another, for those who are ill, for those caring for the ill, and for those who make decisions that affect all of us. While we live in isolation, we remain together. Please stay healthy and hopeful.
Greg Sterling, Dean of Yale Divinity School