A Letter to Palmer Students: Hope in the Grief

Dear Students,

Over the past few days, your inboxes have been flooded with news and logistics surrounding COVID-19 and its abrupt ramifications for you as students. In the span of several hours, you are probably feeling like your life has been flipped upside down.  

I want to take a moment to reflect together. The fear of the unknown, the grief of leaving this community, the anxiety of beginning a new online classroom format – these are deep concerns that I want to acknowledge with you. Your heartache is not lost on me – Eastern University’s tight-knit community is a defining pillar of our identity, and the physical loss of it may feel unbearable.

Please take heart. Our incredible community is not limited to physical bounds, but has a deeper, sustaining source. In John 14, Jesus tells his disciples that he must soon leave them. His disciples are confused, grieved, and afraid. But Jesus promises to send an Advocate for them – the Holy Spirit – as a helper, a comfort, and a guide in light of Jesus’ physical absence. 

That same Holy Spirit continues to exist in every one of his followers – connecting us to the Father and to the greater community of saints (including our Eastern family!). While Jesus’ physical presence was longed for and deeply missed, the work of the Gospel exploded in his absence and the presence of the Holy Spirit brought people to faith in Jesus and newfound joy, power, and direction for the saints of the early church even and especially amid suffering. 

Students, remember that the Holy Spirit is with you today, right now, in the moment, this moment. When you feel lonely, anxious, or homesick for campus, draw on that source of hope from deep within and from Scripture. 

Our source of hope is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, promised and given to us by Jesus himself. Please guard your heart, avoid bitterness, overcome evil with good, be wise, and encourage one another. 

Jesus, anticipating his separation from his disciples, gave this promise:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

 -John 14:27

The administration, faculty, staff, and alumni are praying for you continually. We will make it through these changes together. Be assured of that.

Love, Grace, and Strength for the journey,


Ronald A. Matthews, D.M.A.
President, Eastern University