Over the years I've strived to do one thing in my teaching of and writing about Greek: to make it as simple as possible without sacrificing content and without giving the impression that language study is easy. Kierkegaard once said that, given that everything was becoming easier and easier and easier, and that people would eventually cry out for difficulty, his role in life was to strive to do nothing other than to make life more difficult for everyone. How does one get strength? By doing something difficult over and over again until it's no longer difficult. When you can't change a situation, change yourself.
As I look back on the heartaches in my life -- the loss of my father at the age of three, the loss of my wife when she was only 60, my struggle to become a student when I went off to college -- I realize that whatever happens to me actually plays a less significant role than what God can do with it or how I will respond to it. The supreme challenge to anyone facing the darkness of loss or the challenge of conquering new mountains is learning to live with gratitude on the one hand and learning to face the losses and challenges of life head on and so to be enlarged by them. Insufferable hurdles can diminish us, but they can also expand us.
My hope and prayer for my students is that, through the rigor of studying an ancient language, they would not only be expanded in terms of their self-discipline and time-management skills, but would learn to view the challenges of life as catalysts to transform them from the inside out. It all depends on the choices we make and the strength we receive from the One who alone has the power to give us life.
Dear student of mine, this semester may your prayer be, and may my prayer be, the words of a great old hymn, now utterly forgotten:
Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true word, I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord; Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.