Posted by: blackfootsmj1 | June 16, 2011

Man’s Search for Meaning–The Divine Power of Love


What do human’s desire? Really…What motivates a person to reach amazing heights, persevere through resistance, or to accomplish the seemingly impossible. Philosophers have searched for the answer for why people do what they do. Businessmen for decades have discussed motivation and possible means to increase productivity in the workplace. But what’s the most powerful motive known to mankind? It’s love.

One of the best books I have ever read is a book by Victor E. Frankl, entitled, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” The author makes his best attempt at discussing the purpose behind human existence and what our ultimate purpose is. All of these existential questions are contemplated while Frankl is suffering in a Nazi Concentration Camp. In the book, you get a first hand narrative account of Frankl’s experiences as a victim of the Holocaust. However, towards the end of the first part of the book he relates what it is that eventually saved his life and got him through the most tragic event known to us in modern times.

Man's search for Meaning

… We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbor’s arm. Hardly a word was spoken; the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: “If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”

That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth — that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way  – an honorable way  – in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory….”

Man’s Search for Meaning, Part One, “Experiences in a Concentration Camp”, Viktor Frankl, Pocket Books, pp. 56-57

Little did Frankl know, his wife was lying dead in a ditch not far from where he was. But just the thought of her love is what got him (and many others) through a time when it seemed as if there was no meaning left to their lives. Love provides purpose to our existence and meaning to our lives. It motivates us to be better, to change, and to reach our potential. Love for others gives us the desire to sacrifice and endure all things. Consider the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Love is the most powerful motive known to man.  It provides the hope to do all things and the ability to endure anything.

In the April 2011 General Conference, Elder Dallin H. Oaks related the following story as he shared how this love can shape our desires and propel us to another level.

How do we develop desires? Few will have the kind of crisis that motivated Aron Ralston, 3 but his experience provides a valuable lesson about developing desires. While Ralston was hiking in a remote canyon in southern Utah, an 800-pound (360 kg) rock shifted suddenly and trapped his right arm. For five lonely days he struggled to free himself. When he was about to give up and accept death, he had a vision of a three-year-old boy running toward him and being scooped up with his left arm. Understanding this as a vision of his future son and an assurance that he could still live, Ralston summoned the courage and took drastic action to save his life before his strength ran out. He broke the two bones in his trapped right arm and then used the knife in his multitool to cut off that arm. He then summoned the strength to hike five miles (8 km) for help. 4 What an example of the power of an overwhelming desire! When we have a vision of what we can become, our desire and our power to act increase enormously.

Aron Ralston

Aron Ralston broke both bones in his arm and cut through his flesh in order to survive. His motivation came from love for his son.

In the words of Elder Oaks, “Let us remember that desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. In addition, it is our actions and our desires that cause us to become something, whether a true friend, a gifted teacher, or one who has qualified for eternal life.”

The ultimate example of God’s love for His children is found in the infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ. The suffering was Jesus Christ and his Atonement was only made possible through Christ’s love for each of us as individuals. Suffering so intense he bled from every pore.  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

No Greater Love...

I pray that all of us use this divine love for God and for others to motivate us to keep the commandments, follow God, and to become all that God created us to be. I testify that it is possible.

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Responses

  1. […] the beginning of time man has pondered the meaning to his existence and the purpose in life. Man has forever wondered about the destiny of his soul and the final […]


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