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Waiting Hurts

We are but a few days from the birthday of one of the most influential Christian leaders of the 20th century, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As I thought about his life this morning, I was led to his response to a handful of white Christian leaders who shunned King and his antics of impatience when responding to the atrocities of segregation.

20120110-074806.jpg This response is known as “The Letter from Birmingham Jail”. I couldn’t help but think of how disheartening this must have been for Dr. King to hear from partners in the harvest. Here is the excerpt from the letter (I made one modification to one word to give the deserved respect and honor to the African-American people):

“I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say “wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she cannot go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her little eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son asking in agonizing pathos, “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “n••••r” and your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and when your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodyness” — then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.”

God may I NEVER be blinded by apathetic reasoning and the comfort of the status quo…

So I can’t help but wonder, what will the followers of Jesus 50 years from now look back on and ask, “how could Christians allow such an injustice to happen?”

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