by Roger Thomas

This content is part of a series.

Your Calling (3 of 7)
Life with Peter series
Roger Thomas
Matthew 4:18-25
July 29, 2001

Introduction: Victor Frankl was a very important psychologist of the 20th Century. What is most interesting about Frankl is the fact that many of his original insights were gained from experiences in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. Frankl was a Jew. After he and many of his neighbors were imprisoned by Hitler's men, Frankl was assigned responsibilities for helping care for others in the camp.

Very quickly he began to observe the different manner in which people responded to the experience. All suffered. But some survived with dignity and a measure of joy. Others quickly sank into despair. Frankl observed that many survived great physical impairment while others that appeared much stronger died more quickly. He wondered why. Eventually he concluded that the difference was a sense of hope or meaning. Those who had this sense of meaning could withstand much more than those who had lost it could. Frankl's observations would eventually lead to an entirely different approach to psychology than what had previously been practiced.

In one of his books, Frankl wrote of experiences in the death camps, "What was really needed was a fundamental change n the their attitude toward life. We had to teach despairing men that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly."

What Frankl learned by observation, Charles Finney learned by personal experience over one hundred years earlier. Finney would become one of the great evangelists of the 19th Century. He paved the way for the likes of Dwight L. Moody, Billy Sunday, and eventually Billy Graham. But in 1821 Finney had just finished law school. He was about to take a job working for a veteran lawyer in New England. Finney would later often speak of a conversation wi ...

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