Victor Frankl endured imprisonment at Auschwitz and three additional Nazi death camps from 1942-45. He had studied how humans act and behaved for years. He continued doing this even while in the concentration camps as prisoner. He learned that what really made the difference between those who survived and those who didn’t was not simply physical strength or wellness. What marked the difference was HOPE! Those who held on to hope, to something beyond the barbed wire. They kept looking forward to something, believing that they were going home and carrying on with life one day–somehow.
Frankl wrote of his experiences in Man’s Search for Meaning:
He wrote about it in Man’s Search for Meaning:
The prisoner who had lost faith in the future—his future—was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay. Usually this happened quite suddenly, in the form of a crisis, the symptoms of which were familiar to the experienced camp inmate.… Usually it began with the prisoner refusing one morning to get dressed and wash or to go out on the parade grounds. No entreaties, no blows, no threats had any effect. He just lay there, hardly moving. If this crisis was brought about by an illness, he refused to be taken to the sick-bay or to do anything to help himself. He simply gave up. There he remained, lying in his own excreta, and nothing bothered him any more
Without hope, people plunge from discouragement to depression to despair. With hope, with a belief, that there is something better in the future, men can hold on in the most de-humanizing of all circumstances.
As Christians we have hope–hope not only in this world that God is with us no matter what but also hope in an eternal reward.
That hope beams brightly in Isaiah 40:30-31. Believe it today if you are in Christ.
“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. ” (Isaiah 40:30–31, ESV)