Among the many gifts Condoleezza Rice's dad gave her was his own example of persevering in sorrow while clinging to the God he loved. "Even in his sickbed, he was still the spiritual leader," says Gregory Bailey, Rice's stepbrother. Bailey recalls a Thanksgiving gathering in which the family had assembled around Pastor Rice, whose condition required 24-hour nursing care and had rendered him barely able to speak.

"I was getting ready to lead the prayer. Right before I spoke, John said, in the clearest, most commanding voice, 'Our Father in heaven,' and he basically said a beautiful, eloquent prayer in the clearest, most resonate tone. It was almost like he was in the pulpit, and at the end everyone clapped and cheered and was in tears."

Rice's own approach to struggle combines the godly influences of her family members with her own deeply rooted faith. Not long after becoming provost at Stanford, Rice preached at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church on "The Privilege of Struggle."

Struggle and sorrow, she said, "are not license to give way to self-doubt, to self-pity, and to defeat," but are "an opportunity to find a renewed spirit and a renewed strength to carry on." How else but through struggle, she said, "are we to get to know the full measure of the Lord's capacity for intervention in our lives? If there are no burdens, how can we know that he can be there to lift them?

"The affirmation of that paradox of the human condition, a belief in the privilege of struggle, is heard in the words of a Negro spiritual. In the most horrendous of conditions, when it must have seemed that there was no way out, nowhere to go, slaves raised their voices in 'Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen.' Glory, Hallelujah."

As Rice spoke of how she had found ...

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