A Testament of Hope


This is a historic week in our history as a nation and my hope is to post a couple of things that reflect these momentous days.

This morning I reread Martin Luther King Jr’s essay “A Testament of Hope.” Hope is not a subjective feeling or wishful thinking about the future. Hope is based upon an objective reality and any hope that is based on anything other than this is nothing more than “pie in the sky dreaming.” I was struck by these words from Dr King:

“People are often surprises to learn that I am an optimist. They know how often I have been jailed, how frequently the days and nights have been filled with frustration and sorrow, how bitter and dangerous are my adversaries. They expect these experiences to harden me into a grim and desperate man. They fail, however, to perceive the sense of affirmation generated by the challenge of embracing struggle and surmounting obstacles. They have no comprehension of the strength that comes from faith in God and man. It is possible for me to falter, but I am profoundly secure in my knowledge that God loves us; he has not worked out a design for our failure. Man has the capacity to do right as well as wrong, and his history is a path upward, not downward.”

If anyone in history had the right to become a jaded, cynical, angry and vindictive person, it was Dr King. The hatred, bigotry, and evil that was thrown at him from all sides was brutal. Recently, I have become aware of some anger issues brewing within myself and I have been grappling with how to process them in a healthy way. Dr King never minimized the wrong in his world – yet, he refused to allow the wrong to control him. Hope, in God and in humanity, sustained him.

Some may say Dr. King was naive and that he thought too much of humankind’s capacity to do right. His closing words of this essay remind me, that King’s hope was not a subjective hope, but rather a hope that was certain and secure because it was grounded in the belief in a personal God who is on the side justice and the right.

“A voice out of Bethlehem two thousand years ago said that all men are crated equal. It said right would triumph. Jesus of Nazareth wrote no books; he owned no property to endow him with influence. He had no friends in the courts of the powerful. But he changed the course of history with only the poor and despise. Naive and unsophisticated though we may be, the poor and despised of the 20th century will revolutionize this ear. In our ‘arrogance, lawlessness, and ingratitude,’ we will fight for human justice, brotherhood, secure peace and abundance for all. When we have won these – in a spirit of unshakable nonviolence – then, in luminous splendor, the Christian era will truly begin.”

Dr. King saw it! May our eyes be open to see it as well.

Stay connected…

Comments

  1. By Emily Dickenson:
    Hope

    Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune–without the words,
    And never stops at all,

    And sweetest in the gale is heard;
    And sore must be the storm
    That could abash the little bird
    That kept so many warm.

    I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
    And on the strangest sea;
    Yet, never, in extremity,
    It asked a crumb of me.

    Like MLK, it think hope is something that is a necessity to humankind.
    T

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