I had the opportunity to visit the new memorial honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. recently. The main idea is easy enough to grasp from the words written on the side of the large rock out of which the form of Dr. King is chiseled: “From the mountain of despair comes a stone on hope.” The memorial is impressive, but I didn’t grasp all the significance of it until I read the brochure handed to me as I entered.
The brochure explains the interpretation of the various parts. “The Stone of Hope stands forward of, and is detached from the Mountain of Despair, a massive gateway representative of the struggle faced in the pursuit of social equality and peace. Water, representative of vitality and life, descends from fountains flowing from the side of the Mountain of Despair. The quotations chosen for the inscription walls, which frame the Mountain of Despair and the Stone of Hope, stress four primary messages of Dr. King: justice, democracy, home, and love.”
The memorial honoring Dr. King reminded me of those turbulent days of the early Civil Rights Movement. I was a youth during that time period and heard about the events on TV and read about it in the newspapers. Living in a small town in the Midwest, I felt removed from them. I couldn’t grasp the full importance of the time, the man, or the struggles he spoke and demonstrated about. He was a man willing to speak out and take action, to fulfill his dream of justice for all, as promised in our constitution.
Donna Brazile, a political commentator, wrote these words about Dr. King: “…his vision of America did not die from an assassin’s bullet in Memphis. It is alive, symbolized by a man embedded in stone. It is alive because we, together, manifest the truth of his words, ‘Out of a Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope.’”
My mind also pondered a deeper meaning of those words on Dr. King’s memorial. He was an ordained Baptist minister whose life commanded respect because of his commitment to truth and justice. He knew the source of all truth originated with a Divine Being, a God of justice and mercy.
Many times we face a mountain of despair in our life—for some, it’s daily. God, in his mercy, sent his Son to be a Rock of Hope that we can cling to for courage, and to give us a vision of life and hope in the midst of our despair. He is the Rock who will not falter or be shaken by the events of our world. He enables us to stand strong, knowing he is beside us. He gives us strength to hang unto him, and when we’re too weak to do even that, he reaches out and draws us to himself.
The legacy left by Dr. King has endured for half a century, giving hope and courage to many, but the legacy of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, will last forever. He promises those who love him an eternity of love, peace, justice, and a home with him.
“For You are my rock and my fortress. For You are my hope.” Psalm 71:3 & 5 (NASB)