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Correlating Dr. Frankl's Meaning of Life with Jesus Life and Death

7 pages
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Sewanee University of the South
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Dr. Victor Frankl, having drawn from the dreadful experiences in a concentration camp under Hitlers regime, developed a form of treatment he refers to as logotherapy, which was in response to mans search for meaning in life, especially under intense suffering conditions. His writing reveals that he is not hostile to Christians, rather, he holds some belief in the existence of God, even though he did not embrace the Christian faith (Frankl, n.d., n.p.). He preferred separating his religious beliefs from his profession, psychotherapy (Frankl, n.d., n.p.). He argued that how we respond to evil and suffering provides a powerful opportunity for people to express their unique identity. Besides, this offers them an opportunity to create from suffering a transformative and positive event, that one can turn fate into destiny. Christians characterize Jesus life and death by the alleviation of pain, and finally, his death was the ultimate price that we are not destined to suffer. The purpose of this paper is to highlight how the life and death of Jesus explicate Frankls assertion to a large extent and how it functions as a template for our approach to how we might confront evil and suffering. According to Frankl (1985, p.139), what humans fundamentally desire is meaning. As a survivor of the Nazi transgressions, he found that he and other prisoners could endure horrendous suffering for as long they believed that it had its purpose (Frankl, n.d. n.p.). However, as soon as they felt that their life had no meaning, they gave up, and nothing could stop them from dying. For this reason, it was all about knowing that their life had a meaning (Frankl, 1985, p.139; Frankl, n.d., n.p.). According to Williams (2009, p.219), suffering must always have been a part of Gods plan and this is explicated by the life and death of Jesus.

On account of Jesus life and death, we can correlate to Frankl assertions in that Jesus taught about Gods true meaning, the ultimate reason for the world and his plans of redeeming sinners and healing the creation. The life and ministry of Jesus were all about fulfilling Gods purpose on earth by establishing Gods loving reign on earth regardless of what it took, even his death on the cross (William, 2009, p.219). Jesus had only one task, that of bringing forgiveness to the world. In essence, this explicates Victor Frankls assertion that how we respond to evil and suffering provides an opportunity to create a transformative and positive event. When Jesus died for our sins, we were freed from sin, which exemplifies the positive development.

Jesus life and death provided positive change for believers, which explicates Frankls assertions that how we deal with evil and suffering can lead to an affirmative and transformative change. Through Jesus life and death, we are able to beat evil and suffering as both sanctification and salvation require the power of Gods Holy Spirit. As such, Christians derive the power of God by being empowered to do so by the Holy Spirit and the belief in Jesus. According to Mouton (2016, p.1), Jesus is a healer according to the Gospel of Matthew. Mouton (2016, p.2) highlights that explicit virtues are introduced in the healing narratives of Matthew 8 9, as highlighted by Alan Culpeppers two-part contribution to, Jesus as a healer in the Gospel of Matthew (2016), in which Culpepper offers a profoundly nuanced overview of the role of Jesus as a healer. Additionally, Mouton (2016, p.3) articulates that the New Testament, including the Gospel of Matthew covers multiple instances of social, mental physical, and economic suffering that are predominantly unjust and exploitative. Mouton (2016, p.3) highlights that through the life and death of Christ and the forgiveness of sins, then suffering is alleviated, which explicates Gods purpose on believers, that if we find meaning in Christ, then we are not doomed to suffer. The characteristics of life in Gods new kingdom is connected to reconciliation, healing, and liberation related to physical health, human relations, peace of mind, peace with God, social justice, as well as ecological well-being (Mouton, 2016, p.3). This explicates Frankls claims that how we respond to evil and suffering provides a unique identity of who we are and provides a transformative and positive effect. Therefore, Mouton (2016, p.4) highlights that response to evil via reconciliation will ultimately yield positive results, while also promoting positive human relations and peace of mind. Since Jesus responded to evil and suffering in a good way, this led to a positive event in that we can be able to forgive others even if we have been wrongs. This is the basis for positive human relations and social justice.

Besides, Mouton (2016, p.3) also posits that the entire Jesus ministry has to be appreciated within all-inclusive manifestation of Gods kingdom in the world. The author further articulates that the healings and exorcisms that Jesus orchestrated on those who suffered were signs of a paradigmatic shift in the power of controlling the lives of people and fate on earth. This implies that, according to Frankl assertion, positive response to evil and suffering changes fate into destiny. Therefore, the many miracles that Jesus performed on earth reveal that even though we are fated to suffer, it is not our destiny. Besides, his suffering and death reveals that humans are not destined to suffer, but to be healed (Mouton, 2016, p.2). When Jesus accepted to suffer and die for our sins, it provided us an opportunity to inherit the Kingdom of heaven where there is no suffering. This coincides with Frankls assertions that positive response to evil and suffering offers a compelling opportunity for a person to express their unique identity. Jesus, being a son of God, he endured suffering, and from that, we can be forgiven our sins. Mouton (2016, p.3) highlights explicitly that Jesus was often described to be among people who were sick and needy and had compassion for them, and also cured them (See Matthew 4:2325; 9:3536; 14:14; cf. Mark 2:10; 3:712; Luke 6:1719). In addition, Mouton (2016) highlights that people cried out to Jesus for help (See Matthew 20:29; cf. Mark 10:47), despite the fact that the crowds and the disciples were inclined to rebuke and silence them (See Matthew 20:29, 31; cf. Mark 10:13, 48; Luke 18:3839). However, as Mouton (2016, p.3) revealed, on the contrary, Jesus response was that of seeing the distressed, stopping to attend to them by the roadside, recognising their need and humanity, showing compassion and touching them, which was more often against the societys political and cultural grain (Matthew 8:19:38; 20:3234; cf. Mark 10:16, 4952; Luke 18:4043). Essentially, this revealed his true identity that he came to alleviate pain and suffering, and those who believe in him had been saved from evil and suffering.

Besides, Manninen (2013, p.7) clearly postulates, in response to Terrence Malicks 2011 film, The Tree of Life, that we should react against the inexplicable anguish in the world by focussing on the beauty that permeates every facet of our existence because the same God that allows for suffering, also gives us the beauty to react positively to suffering and evil. He further echoes a message from a 1998 film named The Thin Red Line, when a solder after experiencing the terror of war speaks in a voice-over that,

Darkness, light. Strife and love. Are they the workings of one mind? The features of the same face? Oh, my soul. Let me be in you now. Look out through my eyes. Look out at the things you made. All things are shining One man looks at a dying bird and thinks theres nothing but unanswered pain. That deaths got the final word; its laughing at him. Another man sees that same bird, feels the glory, feels something smiling through it (Manninen, 2013, p.8)

Manninens (2013, p.20) message is evident in that God rewards those who seek and understand him, and that He longs for a more in-depth relationship, through Christ than we allow. Also, Manninen (2013, p.20) points out that God wants us to struggle and commune with us, and to be more involved in our lives, and thus, wants to share his playfulness, joy, peace, and appreciation of life with us. Therefore it can be derived that even in our suffering, God is with us, and Jesus died to bring about peace and joy among his believers. Therefore, since Jesus responded positively to evil and suffering, we are also to do so in Christ, which establishes joy and peace. It is only through the fear of God that we are secure and assured of Gods protection. This inclines to Frankls assertion that how we respond to evil and suffering is vital in providing an identity, which is Christians, and that, positive response guarantees alleviation of evil and suffering.

In conclusion, the life and death of Jesus Christ, which was characterized healing people, and paying the ultimate price of our sins, conforms to Frankls assertion that how we respond to evil and suffering affords us a powerful opportunity to express our true identity. How we respond to evil and suffering also offers a chance to create from suffering a transformative and positive event that turns fate into destiny. The event that Jesus Christ established was dying for our sins, which guarantees Christians that they were not destined to suffer but to enjoy peace and Joy in him.


Frankl, V. E. (1985). Man's search for meaning. Simon and Schuster. New York, NY: Penguin.

Frankl, V.E. (n.d). Tribute to Viktor Frankl. Retrieved from

Manninen, B.A. (2013, April). The problem of evil and humans' relationship with God in Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life. Journal of Religion and Film, 17(1), 1-23.

Mouton, E., (2004). The pathos of New Testament studies; of what use are we to the church and its (public) ethos?, Stellenbosch University Printers, 1-26.

Mouton, E. (2016). Jesus as a healer in the Gospel of Matthew: In conversation with Alan Culpepper. In die Skriflig, 50(1), 1-6. http://

Williams, R. (2009). "Suffering" In God, actually: Why God probably exists, why Jesus was probably divine, and why the "rational" objections to religion are unconvincing. Pp. 215-245. Oxford, U.K.: Monarch Books.

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