Viktor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor, wrote a landmark work in 1946 titled Man's Search for Meaning. It shared his deeply embedded observations on life and death as molded by personal experience at the Auschwitz death camp during World War II.
Frankl's work is summed up with his firsthand observation as to why some captives survived while others died. He pondered why some with good health, intelligence and survival skills did not survive, while others who lacked these attributes endured and lived. He concluded that the single most significant factor for survival was a sense of a future vision—that is, those who survived had a conviction that they had a mission to perform, some important work to do.
Such a crystal-clear analysis of such a grim situation may sound obvious when read in the comfort of our easy chairs. We can easily respond with: "Vision! Uh-huh. Okay, got it!" Yet such excruciating circumstances truly did exist—horrifying circumstances that broke men's souls and transformed them into living zombies devoid of strength to go forward in the face of overwhelming adversities.
So just how vital is this sense of future vision to us as we move forward to where we are striving to go?
Contemplating the real world around us
Let's move off our easy chairs and fully contemplate our real world that continues to move down a one-way conveyor belt leading to prophetic intervention and divine judgment. The Bible clearly underscores the reality that our world has been held captive by the sway of an aggressive spiritual regime since the first man and woman made a fateful decision to reject God's sufficiency in the Garden of Eden. A struggle for existence has ensued ever since. The first prophetic words related in Scripture speak to this struggle coupled with assured victory. God told the serpent in Eden, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel" (Genesis 3:15 Genesis 3:15And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
American King James Version×).
Ever since that time, Satan the devil, referred to as the serpent of old and that great dragon (Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×; 20:2), has been out to devour and eliminate humanity. You might say the ultimate genocide is currently underway, with all races and ethnic groups included. This powerful spiritual adversary is striving to extinguish all who are made in God's image with the destiny to become immortal by God's grace.
The prophetic passage of Matthew 24:22 Matthew 24:22And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
American King James Version×describes a future in which this demonic desire nearly becomes a reality. Jesus Christ says of that coming time, "Unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved [alive], but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened."
"My counsel shall stand"
Oh yes, Satan is busy. But the good news is that God the Father and His Son are even busier and in ultimate control. The prophesied "Seed" of Eve referred to the coming of a Messiah who would ultimately "crush Satan" underfoot (Romans 16:20 Romans 16:20And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
American King James Version×). God has thus revealed the end from the very beginning.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God declares, "For I am God, and there is no other: I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure'" (Isaiah 46:9-10 Isaiah 46:9-10  Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
American King James Version×).
That is, God will do as He pleases—as He wants. And a significant part of what He pleases to do is to call you to be a part of His incredible spiritual family. The apostle Paul speaks to this profound reality in Ephesians 1:4 Ephesians 1:4According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
American King James Version×: "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love."
And yet the macro-world of global events, prophetic trends and unsavory tidings coupled with our own micro-world of personal emotional and spiritual challenges can come into an explosive collision and dim our vision of the glorious future God has in store for us. Daniel 7:25 Daniel 7:25And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
American King James Version×pinpoints an ongoing principle that motivates Satan and his minions—to "defy the Most High and wear down the holy people of the Most High" (New Living Translation).
Worn down? Does this fit you? Remember Frankl's words? Vision! We want to maintain a forward vigilance and a firm understanding that we are not alone in this world colored by frustration and disappointment. We want to make sure we remain living sacred vessels for God's purposes and not allow ourselves to be paralyzed by external forces. Sadly at times, we put ourselves in a cage of our own making, fringed with emotional barbed wire and guard dogs of inhibition that stifle our spiritual movement toward the promises of God's Kingdom. Thus, like victims of Auschwitz, we travel down a sure road from the "living dead" to simply deceased. In our case, the parameters are spiritual in dimension.
Looking beyond self-reflecting mirrors
Perhaps that's why God inspired the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 2 Corinthians 4:16-18  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
American King James Version×to give us a "kick in the seat"—or should I say, "nudge of heart"—and remind us to look beyond the self-reflecting mirrors of our current struggles and even beyond the devastating future events our prophetic telescopes may be trained on and establish a truly godly focus that will allow us to keep all life's matters in perspective. Yes, vision! He says here, "Therefore we do not lose heart." Why does he say this? Spiritual heart failure can even affect saints. Even you!
He continues, "Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day." We are not alone! God is there to help us, so we are able to continue on—knowing where we are going. Paul is systematically leading us to the greatest spiritual outcome in a Christian's life: to, as God tells us, "be still, and know that I am God" (Psalms 46:10 Psalms 46:10Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
American King James Version×).
Paul then moves through a series of contrasting elements to bring us to sharp focus by stating, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Have you ever asked anyone about his or her individual troubles or the challenges of this world and had the person tell you these were either light or momentary? He or she probably responded, "Oh no, this is off the charts!" And yet, Paul says the weight by which to measure everything is not what happens in the moment, but the weighty realm of eternity.
He then provides one final lens of contrast to maintain stillness of heart by assuring: "While we do not look at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." Oh yes, the vision thing again! Our hearts need eyes. So, a question: What side of the ledger are we on? Light or heavy? Momentary or endless? Visible or unseen? Trapped in time and space or focusing on eternity? We can't always choose what comes our way, but we can choose how to respond to it by what pair of eyes we select.
Eyes fixed on eternity
Allow me to be clear. Eyes that are fixed on eternity don't come from below, but above from God. They are given as a gift when He begins to call and work with us. Sometimes we forget that He gave us something very special in the process of becoming a new creation for His purposes and pleasure (see 2 Corinthians 5:17 2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
American King James Version×). Jesus said in John 3:3 John 3:3Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×that being brought forth anew of God's Spirit would allow us to "see the kingdom of God."
In one sense we may view that as the time when we are actually able to enter into God's Kingdom in glory—when we may fully behold all, being spirit ourselves. But God has given us eyes to see even today. Consider that He provided an actual supernatural vision of that glorious future to some of His disciples in the incident known as the Transfiguration. Here they were able to "see the kingdom of God present with power" (Mark 9:1-10 Mark 9:1-10  And he said to them, Truly I say to you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.
 And after six days Jesus takes with him Peter, and James, and John, and leads them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.
 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.
 And there appeared to them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.
 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
 For he knew not what to say; for they were sore afraid.
 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
 And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.
 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.
 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.
American King James Version×; compare Luke 9:27-36 Luke 9:27-36  But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.  And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.  And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.  And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:  Who appeared in glory, and spoke of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.  But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.  And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.  While he thus spoke, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.  And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.  And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.
American King James Version×). Yet even in daily life, through the teachings of Christ and the whole of the Bible, we are enabled to imagine and focus on that wonderful Kingdom—to see it with our hearts and minds more and more.
Seeing God's Kingdom is not just a future destination, it is also a way of traveling—here and now, with the eyes of our new hearts always spiritually synchronized to a transcendent reality purposed by God Almighty. He has invited us to participate as "kings and priests" (Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
American King James Version×), serving under Jesus Christ in His eternal Kingdom. You and I are invited into an ageless and unending realm, when God will wipe away all tears, and "there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4 Revelation 21:4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
American King James Version×). Can you see it?
Eyes that we might see
H.G. Wells once wrote a short story called "The Country of the Blind." It told of a man who fell over a cliff into a valley isolated from the rest of the world. He discovered that all the people there were blind. They had no eyes in their faces. No one had seen the sky, and they didn't know what sunlight was like. They were incredibly inventive and clever with their hands, but they only believed in what they could taste, touch and feel (sound familiar?).
When the visitor told the inhabitants about the world of sun, sky and stars that he saw and that was so real to him, they mocked him at first. Eventually, they insisted that he undergo an operation. These two bulging and soft items in his face must be the cause of his delusion. Once removed, he would be like them and be satisfied with a world of things to be touched, smelled or tasted.
But rather than lose his vision of what he knew to be, the man escaped and climbed up the precipice from which he had fallen. Bruised, bleeding and tired from the strenuous journey up the escarpment, he rested on a ledge and gazed on the brilliance of the setting sun and stared at the colors of rock all around. Rather than become like those around him in the country of the blind, the man had made a choice to save his vision.
Such a choice is before us daily. It is said that God created "the hearing ear and the seeing eye" (Proverbs 20:12 Proverbs 20:12The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD has made even both of them.
American King James Version×). As His spiritual children, God has bequeathed us spiritual ears to reap faith (Romans 10:17 Romans 10:17So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
American King James Version×) and eyes that we might see His Kingdom no matter what blocks our view for a moment, hour or lifetime—be it spiritual adversity, future prophetic antagonists or our own homemade spiritual glaucoma.
"But having seen them afar off"
Perhaps it's Scripture's account of the spiritual visionaries who have gone before us that allows us to stop at the biblical signpost marked "This is this the way, walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21 Isaiah 30:21And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.
American King James Version×) and be able to properly place into motion the advice of a World War II survivor that "a sense of future vision" made all the difference. It's called a "way of traveling."
Hebrews 11, a record of men and women of faith who kept going despite their difficulties, tells us: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them" (Hebrews 11:13-16 Hebrews 11:13-16  These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from where they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: why God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city.
American King James Version×).
Like the man in "The Country of the Blind," and more directly so like the patriarchs of old, hold on to those eyes of the heart. These gifts from God will keep us on the way to where we're going.