Finite Disappointment, Infinite Hope

Most of us are in the midst of a very real struggle. Though our trials may have many flavors, one commonality unifies: the temptation towards hopelessness. Broken relationships. Devastating diagnoses. Prodigal children. Financial crisis. Infertility. Internal battles that no one may ever know or understand. All threaten to suck the life out of us, to lure us into defeat. They whisper lies about us and our circumstances that can render us paralyzed. How do we stand and fight this enemy of our souls when our arms are up, ready to wave the white flag of surrender?

I believe that Martin Luther King’s life gives great insight into this pressing question. He had to have been one of the most resilient men to ever live! I love listening to audio recordings of his speeches, pondering what it was that made this man press on despite all of the resistance he faced. He was undoubtedly brilliant, but not just because his mind was filled with knowledge. No, he was brilliant because he had trained himself to rise above temporary circumstances and fix his attention on the promise God had given him. With this vision, he pressed on through excruciating setbacks. He is quoted as saying, “We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.” His life backed these words.

I believe ours can, too.

On the night before his assassination, he gave a speech in Memphis called “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”. In the days prior, he’d faced extreme difficulty and numerous death threats. His final public words give great insight into how he was able to stand unwaveringly despite all of this:

“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!”

This mountaintop reference is symbolic of Moses’ encounter with God on Mount Nebo. God showed Moses all of the land surrounding him and made a promise that his descendants would possess it. MLK, like Moses, speaks of a similar mountaintop experience with God where he had been given the promise of success for his people.

Martin Luther King’s unshakeable confidence, his fearless resolve, came from his encounter with the Promise Maker. One brush with God- one experience of His glory- one word from His mouth- and suddenly fear was defeated. Discouragement was buried under a mound of hope. Doubt was swallowed up by belief.

Charles Spurgeon once said, “I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages.” May our struggles cause us to draw near to the Lord. May they make our ears attuned to a promise from His Word that will bring renewed hope, belief, and resolve. Seek Him through His Word and prayer. He will never turn away those desperate for His presence.

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Psalm 51:17

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21


4 thoughts on “Finite Disappointment, Infinite Hope

  1. Sarah Carter

    It’s crazy how his last words provide the foreshadowing of what happens in the near future. There’s a lot we can learn from MLK. Thank you for always encouraging others through your blog.


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