14 04 2021


If you were to ask me what some of my favorite Books were, my answer would include “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. It is a tragic tale of what it was like to be in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII. Frankl describes how the Nazi Germans did everything in their power to not only kill these Jewish men and women in a horrific fashion but humiliate them and rob them of any ounce of dignity that might remain. Frankl in powerful fashion shares that while the enemy did its best, it could not take away the will to live and to have hope. It also highlighted that human beings can even shine in the worst of circumstances and situations.

While the Holocaust saw millions of men, women and children die in these death camps; included among the deceased were Frankl’s parents and his pregnant wife. But in spite of and despite these personal tragedies and the inevitable deep pain and ache these heartaches brought; Frankl was still able to put this unbelievable suffering in a perspective that inspires readers like me even today.

Of course, Frankl was not alone in those who still found signs of life in a garden of cement. The daughter of Holocaust survivors shares that her parents had a network of friends who, like them, had survived some of the same horrific death camps as Frankl. You might assume that because of this past, they had a pessimistic, if not entirely dark and depressed, outlook on life. But, you would be wrong! She shares that when she was growing up outside Boston her parents would gather with friends who were also survivors of the death camps and have a party. She writes that the women would get “all gussied up,” wearing their finest clothes, decking themselves out to the hilt as if they were going to Cinderella’s ball. She continues that they would also gather for lavish feasts, dancing and being merry together, “enjoying life every chance they had!”

Her father would say, “That’s living” by being grateful to celebrate the little things. They never forgot that life was a gift that the Nazi machine was not successful in taking away from them.” They were absolutely determined, after all the hells they had endured, to say “Yes!” to life, in spite of everything.

I love that phrase “Yes to Life,” Viktor Frankl informs us that it was from the lyrics of a song sometimes sung by the inmates of the four camps in which he was a prisoner, the notorious Buchenwald among them. The song had bizarre origins. One of the first commanders of Buchenwald which was built in 1937 originally to hold political prisoners, ordered that a camp song be written. Prisoners, often already exhausted from a day of hard labor and little food,

were forced to sing the song over and over. One camp survivor said of the singing, we “put all our hatred” into the effort. But for others some of the lyrics expressed hope, particularly this:

“Whatever our future may hold: We still want to say “yes” to life, Because one day the time will come— Then we will be free!

If the prisoners of Buchenwald, tortured and worked and starved nearly to death, could find some hope in those lyrics despite their unending suffering, Frankl asks us, shouldn’t we, who are living in far more positive and still free society, be able to say “Yes” to life in spite of everything this challenging journey brings us? The enemy wants to shut you up and steal, kill and destroy any smidgeon of joy that might be stirring in your heart. Christians need to stop looking for paradise to be a place on earth and learn how to sing the song of Heaven, even as they march through hell. Raise the praise, sing to the Lord, and let the light of Jesus lead the way when we run out of earthly batteries to keep the place from going totally dark. Every day of Radiation treatment, I look for songs to sing, people to love, souls to encourage and happenings of hope that the promises of God still assure us are in our hope and future. Our hope is not built on earth’s humble but unpredictable shores. It is found in the Hands of the One who never let’s us go. Through the calm and through the storms- we have a reason to breathe so don’t be gagged by those who have no right or authority to steal your voice.   



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