Choose your attitude

Victor Frankl, the great Jewish psychiatrist who survived the Nazi Holocaust, once wrote that “the last of human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude” – even in tough times.

Frankl chose not to let his mind and heart be destroyed by the Nazis in a concentration camp.

I heard this quote at a church seminar in Ottawa this weekend by Ken Sande, a lawyer, engineer and author of a book on peacemaking.

Sometimes, we feel helpless in the face of circumstances – health, job loss, family disputes, church divisions. But we still have a choice – we can choose despair or hope.

I looked up another quote by Frankl which I really like: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

I have been confronted by difficult situations in the past – in the work world and even in Christian churches. I have not always dealt with them well.

But I have good examples of people who found hope in the midst of serious trouble.

Perhaps the greatest example is Jesus Christ. The night before his crucifixion, he knew he was destined to die the next day. He was filled with horror at the thought of bearing the world’s sins on the cross and being cut off for a moment from his beloved Father.

But he obeyed the Father because he trusted him. And he knew the outcome was good.

My attitude must be to trust that God is working his will in my circumstances. There may be pain – but ultimately God’s plan will be worked out for good.

Frankl’s words about changing ourselves when things seem hopeless reminds me of the apostle Paul and his companion Silas in the Philippian jail. Badly beaten, they sang praises to God, something that must have impressed the other prisoners. God acted supernaturally and they were freed as a result of a quake.

In Ephesians 5:20, Paul says: “Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s “everything” – bad and good.

That’s a hard to do when I’m dealing with hard things. But it changes me when I do it.

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2 comments so far

  1. Andrew Douglas on

    Another great post. A few weeks ago I couldn’t stop thinking about Psalm 71:14-16. This post was a great reminder to stay in that place.

  2. Robert Douglas on

    That is a great passage – Psalm 71:14-16. Thanks, Andrew.


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