Meekness is not weakness. Gentleness is not powerlessness. Meekness is submissiveness under provocation, the willingness rather to suffer than inflict injury. There are times when meekness is the strongest expression of determined resolve. One of the greatest civil rights activists was baptist minister Martin Luther King, Jr. He is best known for advancing civil rights through the use of nonviolent civil disobedience during the 1950s-60s. Consider this quote from his Christmas sermon on December 24, 1967:
I've seen too much hate to want hate, myself, and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear. Somehow, we must be able to stand up against our most bitter opponents and say: We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you . . . but be assured that we'll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.
That's a powerful statement! "We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you." Martin Luther King was no coward. King was no wimp. But King found strength from a deeper well than most. For King (and for the Christian) strength to endure suffering is modeled in Christ's life and found in Christ's sacrifice.
Of that sacrifice, Peter wrote: He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when He was insulted, nor threaten revenge when He suffered. He left His case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. (1 Peter 2:22-23)
We need to rise above superficial Christianity! The simple platitudes and coffee-mug phrases won't do when suffering enters our lives. In order to endure the harshness of this world, we need to allow Christ to teach us the way of meekness and self-control.