Sunday, January 30, 2011

Even in suffering...

Viktor Frankl was a survivor of one of the most horrific POW experiences imaginable. He wrote about that experience in a book entitled Man’s Search For Meaning. It is a powerful story. I was on the verge of tears for much of it. Toward the end of the book, he writes about how one sorts through such heart-wrenching suffering. Here is where his writing was at its most profound.

It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think to ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual...

When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his suffering as his task; his single and unique task. He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the universe. No one can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.

For the last couple of weeks I have been sorting my own plight of trying to find a publisher for my manuscript. It seems almost absurd to speak of my publishing challenge in the same piece as Frankl’s suffering at Auschwitz.

They are not comparable.

However, I am also aware that when people minimize their own challenges – because they can find someone who is facing harder challenges still – they only circumvent their own progress. In fact, making the most of the learning opportunities given to us through the smaller and less ominous struggles gives us real knowledge and experience for navigating the larger ones.

So, following the advice of Frankl, I have the responsibility at this juncture to find the right answer to this problem. I need to accept that this is where I am. No one can fix this for me. With God’s help and wisdom, I will move forward toward that which gives me the best shot at doing what seems right given what I know at this point in my life. May I have the courage to do that – and not give up.

Lead on Lord!

1 comment:

DVD said...

We are unique and alone in our suffering, I certainly wouldn't disagree. Yet it's equally true that our suffering is our most common element and something that can draw us together in true community. Entering into each other's suffering is a necessary component of true compassion (compassion being "love without expectation"). Thanks for continuing to share and expand the potential for community...

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