Viktor Frankl was one of the saints of the 20th century. A Jewish psychiatrist in Vienna in the 1930's, he was arrested and sent to a concentration camp after the Nazi takeover. Because he was a physician, he was kept alive. Frankl did what he could to help his fellow inmates and all the while reflected on and recorded what he saw and experienced and later, after the war, wrote about it in one of the important books of the century, Man's Search for Meaning.
Conditions in the camp were appalling: regular torture, starvation, and execution. There was no hope of escape or rescue. Around the camp was a highly charged electrical fence. A prisoner who decided to end it all simply needed to throw himself into the fence, which many did. Viktor Frankl noticed in that hellish setting that prisoners who were devout Christians or pious Jews seemed more likely to survive -- because they never gave in to hopelessness. He also noted that prisoners who lost hope died shortly thereafter.
As we end our sermon series this week on "Fearless Living in a Fearsome World," we will consider the Apostle Paul's resilience, his hope and persistence, in the face of enormous obstacles. He was often arrested, persecuted, and shipwrecked. He even had someone fall asleep while he was preaching, fall out of a second story window, and die!
Yet, Paul clung to hope that his mission mattered, his life mattered, and that, eventually, God would accomplish "more than he could ask or imagine."
I love Emily Dickinson's description of hope.
"Hope is the thing with feathers,
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without words
And never stops at all."
Hope seemed to perch in Paul's soul. You can read about the end of Paul's ministry here and come prepared to explore it in depth this weekend. I HOPE to see you .