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What My Greek Professor Taught Me About COVID-19

March 23, 2020
What my Greek Professor Taught Me About COVID-19 by Dr. John Neufeld | Back to the Bible Canada

As I was thinking about how life has changed ever since our nation was put under quarantine from COVID-19, my mind went back to my very first Greek class in Seminary. 

As is often the case among first-year Seminary students, Greek filled me with more than a few fears.  I had already heard the phrase, “It’s all Greek to me.”  The phrase means that anything that is difficult to understand, is like Greek.  And so, I came into the class believing this would be my most difficult class.  It turned out not to be so, because of what my professor said that day.

After introducing himself, Dr. Green wrote a word on the whiteboard.  “Hypomone”.  Only he wrote it in Greek letters so that it was incomprehensible to all of us.  He sounded the word out for us, and then told us, that if we could learn the use of this one Greek word, the rest of the class would be a breeze.  It would be no problem at all.  Of course, we all sat up.  I must, however, admit, I was skeptical.

But Dr. Green went on.  You must learn this word to do well in this class.  The word, he says, is often translated as perseverance.  It can also be translated as steadfastness or even endurance. The word means that you carry on in purpose, regardless of the circumstances.

Dr. Green then went on to explain that this Greek class would be different than all other classes.  In other classes, we could get away with not studying every day.  But Greek, he said, was like riding a surfboard.  If you get behind the wave, you will never catch up.  Hence the importance of daily perseverance.  Hypomone. 

He then explained that we needed to set aside a period of time, every day, to go over our Greek work.  We could never miss a day.  We would review vocabulary, Greek grammatical constructions and reading Greek sentences.  We must never allow a single day to go by, wherein we did not return to our work.  We must be steadfast in purpose. 

I, and most of my fellow students, took that to heart.  I reserved time on a daily basis.  And as time went on, remarkably, I found my Greek class to be one of the most enjoyable classes I was taking.  Furthermore, I found that exams caused me almost no stress at all, as I was getting 100% on all my exams.  Ah, hypomone at work.

I was thinking about the Coronavirus in the same way.  A great many people are afraid.  Some hoard groceries.  Some are paralyzed with anxiety.  Others ignore the instructions given by health authorities, as if to do so might make the whole thing go away.  But I have remembered the lesson from my first Greek class.

Every day, I will continue to read the word of God, and pray.  I will not miss.  Every day, I will continue to actively place my hope in God.  Every day, I will give thanks for the sovereignty of God, and for the sure confidence that comes from verses like Romans 8:28.  I will remember to persevere.  And I hope to find, that come what may, the commitment to the basics in my life, will pay great dividends, should a severe test come our way.  Hypomone.

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