Viktor Frankl, whose bestselling book Man’s Search for Meaning, drew upon his experiences in Auschwitz, made some profound observations about what caused human beings to keep going in the midst of unimaginable suffering. He concluded after interviewing dozens of prisoners that a sense of purpose and meaning was what distinguished those who survived from those who did not.
That might sound simplistic. In fact, if this explanation had not been advanced by someone who had endured the horrors of a concentration camp, it might even have seemed to trivialise the experiences of those who endured such suffering. However Frankl had been there too and he was the one who had conducted the interviews. His conclusions serve to underline a simple if profound truth: living with a sense of purpose can profoundly affect the outcome of our lives.
We find this exemplified in the life of Jesus. His sense of purpose propelled Him forward in His most difficult and testing moments.
Towards the end of Luke chapter four, we find that after a time of incredible miracles and healings the people of Capernaum tried to keep Him from leaving them (v.42). Jesus resisted their overtures with a strong statement of purpose: “I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to other towns also.” (v.43)
In Luke chapter nine verse fifty-one we are told that “As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem”. He knew what was coming and despite any misgivings of His own disciples or opposition from antagonistic Samaritans, Jesus’ resolution prevailed.
Luke 13.31 records Jesus’ response to Herod’s threat to kill Him. Once again, he responds by stating His purpose: “I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day – for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!” (v.33). Purpose. Even when the government threatened Him with death, conviction about His purpose enabled Jesus to handle the threat with composure.
We need to grasp the purpose God has for us. Without it we will likely yield to the pressures of temptation or opposition or even just flattering distraction. Read the Word. Meditate deeply on God’s general purpose for us all, namely to live to glorify Him. Ask Him to show you His specific purpose. If you will grab hold of that and not let go of it, you will find it unlocks His grace in all sorts of unfamiliar or difficult situations.