"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." Coming from a man who had spent many years in a World War II Nazi concentration camp, that point of view is most remarkable, but that is exactly what got Dr. Viktor Frankl through the most harrowing ordeal of his life.
There is not much in the news of late that is terribly hopeful. Many families are sending sons, daughters, fathers and mothers to the Middle East in preparation for war. Our Pacific Rim neighbors in North Korea are becoming more militant. Families are losing jobs and incomes to layoffs. The events of Sept. 11, 2001, still hang over us, reminding us of our vulnerability. It seems that even the weather is against us as day after gray day brings the gloom of winter more oppressively around us.
In the midst of all of this turmoil I am reminded of the Apostle Paul's counsel to Timothy. As Paul reminded Timothy of his faithful heritage and encouraged him to greater faithfulness, he said, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord ... who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel ..." The gospel is "good news." It is a reminder of greater things to come when through patient faith and well doing we can look forward to the promise of eternal joy and happiness.
Just days before the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, President Gordon B. Hinckley of the 11 million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke of the importance of faith and prayer in troubled times. He counseled, "There may be some lean days ahead for some of you. There may be troubles. None of us can avoid them all. Do not despair. Do not give up. Look for the sunlight through the clouds. Opportunities will eventually open to you. ...
"No matter the circumstances, I encourage you to go forward with faith and prayer, calling on the Lord. You may not receive any direct revelation. But you will discover, as the years pass, that there has been a subtle guiding of your footsteps in paths of progress and great purpose."
Two short days later, as he spoke before the National Association of Insurance and Financial Underwriters, there came these words of comfort and consolation. On Sept. 11, 2001, he said, "Today has been a day that will be remembered always in the annals of our beloved nation. It has been a day when the ugly face of hatred has shown itself with terror, death and destruction. It has been a day when uncounted numbers of the innocent have perished, and their loved ones have been left to sorrow. Many have been wounded, and this nation has been seriously injured and insulted. ...
"We have been reminded that evil is still rampant in the world. Its insidious and dastardly hand has struck again in a most reprehensible manner. ...
"But dark as is this hour, there is shining through the heavy overcast of fear and anger the solemn and wonderful image of the Son of God, the Savior of the World, the Prince of Peace, the exemplar of universal love, and it is to Him that we look in these circumstances. It was He that gave His life that all might enjoy eternal life."
He concluded, "May the peace of Christ rest upon us and give us comfort and reassurance."
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear: but of power, and of love and of a sound mind. ..." May this be our hope and prayer for our country, for our leaders and for each of us in the season of uncertainty and turmoil ahead of us.
Britt Gibson is the public affairs Director at the Juneau Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.