After my article “Meaning in Loss” I was asked: “I like the part in the article where you explain that ‘it was meant to be’ is not in line with Frankl's theory. However, do religious people usually say ‘It was meant to be,’ in the sense that it was G-d's will?”

One of the ways to find meaning in suffering is to adopt a philosophy that frames the situation from a higher perspective. However, while seeing from heaven’s eyes is something to strive for, you cannot pretend to be there when you’re not. Not everyone finds comfort in declaring that everything is good, because from their perspective it’s not.

The Jewish response to hearing that someone has died is, Blessed is the true judge. Not, Blessed is the good and the one who bestows good. The Talmud rejects the second possibility. Our emotional response to tragedy is not the same as our emotional response to joyful events, and Jewish law guides us towards an expression that reflects these different emotional states.

The answer to why things happen is beyond human comprehension. Therefore Judaism does not give a solution for metaphysical problems. Instead it teaches you how to live. Life’s challenges are a prompt for you to do something.

So while religious sources grapple with metaphysical problems, both Judaism and Logotherapy meet the person where he or she is.

‘Meaning’ in Logotherapy is not an answer to the question ‘Why?’ Meaning is the answer to ‘What for?’ What good can come out of this? What values of courage or compassion or contribution can be fulfilled here?

In the process of discovering meaning, tension between what is and what ought not to be (i.e. suffering) plays a pivotal role.

  1. Tension forces us to focus on what is precious in life
  2. Tension spurs us to search for meaning

Truth is multifaceted. Bad things happen, but those events remind us that there are always good things alongside the bad. Grief attests to honoring memory of the beloved. Struggles create sensitization to help others in a similar situation. There is always what to appreciate.

Secondly, tension provokes a response There can be no reconciliation with the bad in this lifetime. So when you witness suffering, you do everything in your power to put an end to suffering and you do everything in your power to avoid it from happening again. When something is beyond your control, it forces you to learn from it and to use it for good.

You do not need to be on a higher level of consciousness to squeeze meaning out of a situation. You only need to be honest about your anger and your grief and your frustration and use the tension productively.

It is a leap of faith to accept God’s will. It is a responsibility to fulfill God’s will moment by moment.