Faith, Hope, and Spiritual Empowerment

“I’m expecting you to be like a rock,” King said to his staff. No matter what their tribulations, they should never succumb to “give-up-itis.” Hope was the final refusal to give up. “Genuine hope involves the recognition—I think this is very important in what we are about to do—that what is hoped for is already here. It is already present in the sense that it is a power which drives us to fulfill what we hope for.

“That is what Jesus meant when he looked at his disciples and said one day, ‘You don’t have to wait for some distant day for the kingdom of God to come. Brethren”—King now speaking to those before him—“you’ve got to realize that the kingdom of God is in you, it’s right now, as an inner power within you that drives you to fulfill the hope of a universal kingdom.” Hope was personally and socially therapeutic, a force of survival, of immortality. Going to Washington, they were crossing to Jerusalem.
With faith “I send you forth,” he instructed his staff, “as Jesus said to his disciples: Be ye as strong and as tough as a serpent, and tender as a dove. And we will be able to do something that will give new meaning to our own lives and, I hope, new meaning to the life of the nation.”

In his speech, “In Search for a Sense of Direction,” King reported progress in the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign. He recounted his visits with “the least of these,” who lived with “wall to wall rats and roaches.” He pointed out portentous parallels between their nation losing its soul and the Roman Empire’s decline and fall.

“God’s judgment is standing today on America.” They will be coming to Washington to say, repent America, and to “demand that the nation grant us what is truly ours.” He concluded with words of encouragement, as much to himself as to anyone.
“I can’t lose hope,” he said. “I can’t lose hope because when you lose hope, you die. When you lose hope, you become so nihilistic that you engage in disruption for disruption’s sake rather than for justice’ sake.” He was especially wary fearing that somewhere, maybe right outside the door, extremists were gunning for him.

“When you lose hope, you may still stand up and think you’re a man physically, but you are dead psychologically and spiritually. We’ve lost a great deal, and we’ve had our disappointments, but we must develop something on the inside that causes us to go on anyway. If we give up, we are dead.”

“If I can leave you with any message tonight,” he closed, “I would say don’t lose hope. Wait for the next morning. It may be dark now. It may look like we can’t get out of this thing now. It may appear that nonviolence has failed, and the nation will not respond to it.

“Don’t blow your brains out now. Don’t give up hope. Wait until the next morning, for our check will surely come. And we will be a new people.” [387, 394]

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