A man named Victor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, discovered this great truth in the midst of a Jewish concentration camp during WW II. While seeking to survive the horror of this imprisonment Frankl began observing his fellow prisoners in the hope of discovering what coping mechanism would help him endure this horrendous existence. What Frankl discovered was this...
Those individuals who could not accept what was happening to them, who could not make their present suffering fit with their faith, who could not find it’s meaning in their world view... they despaired, lost hope, and eventually gave up and died.
But those individuals that could find a meaning from their faith, were then able to find hope for a future beyond their present suffering, and so could accept what they were enduring as a part of their existence, and they tended to be survivors. Frankl made this powerful observation:
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that 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." - Man’s Search for Meaning
From Don Hawk’s Sermon: Hope—The First Gift