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Man's Search for Meaning

by Victor Frankl

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The problem of evil is generally considered to be one of the strongest arguments against Christianity. How could a loving God, Who is also omnipotent, allow so much suffering and pain? If He can put a stop to it, why doesn’t He?

Such a question cannot be answered in a paragraph or even in a book. The answer has to be lived—just as the Christian faith has to be lived. There’s a point where talking and writing about suffering or faith reach their limit, and we must look for the truth in lives.

A few years ago, my mother was in a severe ATV accident, and as a result she is now a quadriplegic. The woman who hiked the Grand Canyon in one day in sandals, without food or water, now is confined to her bed and her wheelchair. And she was such a strong Christian! How could God allow one of His own to suffer so much?

Anything I say here will fall flat. But if you knew my mother, you would not wonder at the problem of evil. Her life answers that question like a bolt sliding in a lock. If she can suffer so deeply, and draw closer to God, who am I to ask questions?

Viktor Frankl also suffered mightily. Not only did he suffer for years in Nazi prison camps, including Auschwitz, but also his whole family, except one sister, was killed in those camps. As a trained psychotherapist, Frankl endured that experience while realizing that his own faith in Freudianism was incapable of answering the questions created by such intense suffering.

The primary question that haunted Frankl was the meaning of suffering. He knew that some people simply dismissed suffering as meaningless, but what he saw in those camps wouldn’t allow him to accept that idea. Instead, he concluded, “If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering.”

This is the great truth of Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl, to the best of my knowledge, never found the answer in the person of Jesus Christ. But as he watched men suffer mightily, he understood that some men lived in a way that rendered the problem of evil moot. “We who lived in concentration camps,” writes Frankl, “can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.”

by Jeff Baldwin