With the boycott approaching its second month, King draws on two sermons by Frederick M. Meek to offer a message of hope to the people of Dexter.1 He reveals his own struggle in the midst of despair: “There are times that I get despondent, and wonder if it is worth it. But then something says to me deep down within God is able.” King acknowledges that God does not offer a problem-free life, but he concludes with words of encouragement: “If you have a proper faith in God he will give you something within which will help you to stand up amid your problems.”
"Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling—Jude 1:242
This is the beginning of a New year. It is a time when the startling Facts of yesterday and the hightening expectations of tomorror join hands in the pressing urgency of today. There is no better way to begin this year than with the conviction that there is a God of Power Who is able to do exceeding abundanly thing in our lives and in the life of the universe.3 To believe in and to live by the fact that “God is able” gives is to transform life’s impending sunsets into glittering sunrises. The conviction that “Our God is able” is a conviction stressed and exulted in, over and over again in [both?] the New and Old Testaments.4 This conviction stands at the cente of our Christian faith. Theologically, it is expressed in the doctrine of the omnipotence of God. The God that we worship is not a weak God, He is not an incompetent God and consequently he is able to beat back gigantic mountains of opposition and to bring low prodigious hill tops of evil.5 The ringing cry of the Christian faith is that our God is able.
There are times when each of us is forced to question the ableness of our God. When we notice the stark and colossal realities of evil—that something that Keats called "the giant agony of the world," when we notice the long [ruthlessness?] of earthquakes and tonadoes, when we behold ills like insanity that fall on individuals even at birth, when we are forced to experience the grim tragedies of war and man’s inhumanity to man, we find ourselves asking, why does all of this exist if God is able to prevent it.6 This morning we are not able to go into the “whyness” of evil. Such a venture would require another sermon altogether. [Yet?] we can say that in spite of these glaring dimensions of evil, and the occasional doubts that come to all of us there is the perenial conviction that "our God is able."
1. A Dexter program for 1 January 1956 indicates that King delivered this sermon. He filed copies of Meek’s sermons in the same file folder as this document (Meek, “Our God Is Able, a sermon preached in Old South Church in Boston,” 4 January 1954; Meek, “Perhaps Your God is Not Big Enough, a sermon preached in Old South Church in Boston,” 11 October 1953). For a more developed version of this sermon, see King, Draft of Chapter XIII, “Our God is Able,” Strength to Love, July 1962-March 1963, pp. 527-534 in this volume.
2. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” This is also the biblical text for Meek’s sermon “Our God Is Able.”
3. Cf. Ephesians 3:20.
4. Meek, “Our God Is Able”: “Meanwhile ‘Our God is able’ is a conviction stressed and exulted in, over and over and over in the New Testament.”
5. Meek, “Our God Is Able”: “Believe me, it is not a weak God, it is not an incompetent God with Whom we have to deal.” In his copy of Meek’s sermon, King underlined this sentence and next to it wrote the Roman numeral I.
6. King cites a line from John Keats,“The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream” (1819).
7. This illustration mirrors one that Meek related in “Perhaps Your God Is Not Big Enough.”
8. Fosdick, “How Believe in a Good God in a World Like This?” in Living Under Tension (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1941), p. 216: “All the great religions have so pictured life in terms of conflict. Hinduism called it a conflict between reality and illusion; Zoroastrianism a conflict between light and darkness; Platonism a conflict between spirit and matter; traditional Judaism and Christianity a conflict between God and Satan.” A central element of Zoroastrianism, a religion founded in Persia as early as 1000 BCE, is the constant struggle between the evil spirit of darkness and the god of light and goodness.
9. Meek, “Perhaps Your God Is Not Big Enough”: “Victor Hugo is describing the Battle of Waterloo. And Hugo concludes his description with these words: ‘Was it possible that Napoleon should win this battle? I answer ‘No.’ Because of Wellington? ‘No.’ Because of Blucher? ‘No.’—because of God. Waterloo is not a battle; it is a change in the front of the universe.” See also Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (New York: A. L. Burt, 1862), pp. 337-338.
10. Cf. Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
CSKC, INP, Coretta Scott King Collection, In Private Hands, Sermon file, folder 11, "Our God Is Able."