I don’t always know what the question is. But I do know the answer. The answer is: LOVE.
The scriptures teach that God is love: “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love,” (1 John 4:8). “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him,” (1 John 4:16).
If God is love, then love is an enabling power available to all of God’s children. It is a force for good. In fact, it is the force and source of the greatest good.
When we are filled with the love of God, everything changes. We see life differently. We respond to challenges in a new way. Our outlook on life changes. We change our minds about life! We transform! (See Romans 12:2.)
Joseph Smith taught: “A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.”
Love is the fuel by which those who come unto Christ live their lives. For this to be true, it must work in the best of times and the worst of times. Let me explain by telling you about World War II and an amazing man named Victor Frankl.
Some of your grandparents or great-grandparents fought in this war. It was a global military conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945 and involved most of the world’s nations, including all of the great powers. It was organized into two opposing military alliances: the Allies (the good guys, including America and England) and the Axis (the bad guys, including Nazi Germany and Japan). It was the most widespread war in history, with more than 100 million military personnel mobilized.
Marked by significant action against civilians, including the Holocaust and the only use of nuclear weapons in a war, it was the deadliest conflict in human history, with over 70 million deaths.
The Holocaust is the term used to describe the intentional murder of approximately six million European Jews during World War II by Nazi Germany. Jews were forced into concentration camps where they were tortured and then murdered. Only a few Jews survived the concentration camps. One of them was Victor Frankl.
Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist. In 1942, at age 37, the Germans deported him, his wife, and his parents to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. In 1944, he was moved to Auschwitz concentration camp and was then to the Türkheim concentration camp. Meanwhile, his wife had been transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she was murdered, and his parents had been sent to Auschwitz where they were murdered.
On April 27, 1945, American soldiers took control of Auschwitz and liberated Frankl. To be liberated is to be set free. At last he was free!
Victor Frankl was blessed with a mind capable of learning important lessons even in the darkest of times. He found purpose and meaning in the worst of all situations. Read his account of an experience he had while working in the harsh conditions of the Auschwitz concentration camp:
“… 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….”
The above quotation comes from Victor Frankl’s famous book, Man’s Search for Meaning. I encourage you to read this book when you get home from your mission.
In one of the darkest period’s of human history, with a front row seat, Frankl discovered something great: “love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire.”
In a speech given at BYU in January 1996, Professor C. Terry Warner connects Victor Frankl’s observations about love with the core message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Professor Warner teaches how we can each turn love into a power for good:
“The Savior seems to say to us: “Come unto me, and I will give you such assurance and hope and strength that you cannot be taken hostage by anyone who seems to do you harm. I will liberate you into love. And then you will no longer give anyone cause to resent or fear you. Instead, they will respond to the love that I have bestowed upon you. By abiding in me, you will do much good, bear much fruit.”
How then shall we come unto Christ so that everything will be different from what it could possibly be otherwise?
By sacrificing all taking of offense. By giving up criticism, impatience, and contempt, for they accuse the sisters and brothers for whom Christ died. By forswearing vulgarity and pornography, which diminish both the user and the used. By putting aside, in short, every practice that bears the image of murder, obliteration of souls, discord, and death. By giving these practices their true name, violence, and abhorring even their first appearance. By renouncing war in every form and proclaiming peace (see D&C 98:16).”
As a missionary, you are far away from the comforts of home. But you can find a new home in the arms of God as you come unto Christ in your life! You can feel of His love for you. You can gain literal strength and power through this love, as did missionaries of long ago: “blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land,” (Alma 26:36).
So many people are “running on empty”. They are empty of love. It is our job, our responsibility and our privilege to help fill them with love. Life’s most important questions all have the same answer: LOVE.
Powered by love,