She just lost her child again, the 6th time. They had told her that if something happened to this one, he would marry again, someone else. She would not have a place to go to. She wonders why it had to happen to her again. She longed for a child, and the images of her still born children flash back in her mind. Her body ached, but she had to get up. Tomorrow she would have to resume all the work for her joint family, wash the clothes, cook food and mop the house. She thought she was better off buried along with her child.
He thinks back on that day more than his psychotherapist knows. And whenever that happens, he feels intense guilt, pain and shame, so bad everything inside him screamed. He cannot forgive himself and never will be able to. That was the cost of the alcohol he drank that day, the day he killed his brother. Now nothing helped his nightmares or his insomnia, no alcohol, no drugs. He would rather just join him, his brother, but he couldn’t kill himself, in this high security jail, where he was a special case.
A lady is at the doctor’s office waiting for the scan results. She has been battling cancer for 5 years, has had 5 surgeries. She had been told that she may not make it through another surgery. She is a shadow of her younger self. She is called in and told that the cancer has recurred, chemotherapy would not help, she would need another surgery. She thinks back at all the pain she has been through, at her dwindling financial resources, at her daughter who has barely been able to attend school because of the treatment. ‘How much longer Lord’, she thought.
She dreads the sound of the door opening. She knew what would happen, he would come in completely drunk, the money for the rent gone. He would curse her and everything else and then let out his anger on her. The anger of his troubled childhood, the poverty which surrounded them, the hunger which he felt. She would try to keep the child out of his way, the little girl, who would never be able to walk or talk. Where could she go if she wanted to? She could not read or write or support her daughter, no one would take her in. That would be her life, she just wished it would be over soon, but then what about the child?
She is blamed for her husband’s suicide. Everyone has turned against her. She has no one to support or comfort her. She is shunned and fired from her job. Newspapers flash lies about her and the public believes it. She is too stunned to cry. She has lost her love. She has no future, no hope.
Some people live in hell while they are alive.
There go through different kinds of hell- physical hell, emotional hell, social hell, spiritual hell.
Not sure if one is better, or one worse than the other.
They see no way out of their difficulties.
They suffer physically or emotionally or both every moment of the day.
They wake up with pain and go to sleep with pain.
Imaging studies have shown that emotional pain is as intense and sometimes more prolonged than physical pain.
For some people, things could not be worse.
What options do they have?
How do they find joy in the midst of their suffering?
How do you say that life is a gift, when all you want is for it to be over?
Is heaven the only thing you can look forward to when you suffer and are tormented on earth? So is heaven assured to those who suffer hell on earth?
Christians believe that taking your life is a sin.
In my country Euthanasia is a crime.
But could hell be worse?
So what is hell like?
Is hell the absence of God? Is that enough to make hell, hellish?
John Piper* in an interview says the following:
“Hell is the absence of God.
The Lord will be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
So the promise of Psalm 16:11 will not come true in hell.
There will not be fullness of joy.
There will not be pleasures forevermore.
God’s presence like that won’t be there.
The prayer of Jesus in John 17 will not be answered either.
They will not see his glory.
The love of God will not be in them, neither will the love of Jesus.
God will however, be terribly present in another sense.
We will live and move and have our being.
We will not be able to hide from the terrible countenance of his anger.
He will enforce justice and maintain suffering.
We will not want him to be present and will not enjoy his presence.
Hell is more than the absence of God.
Jesus said: Fear him who can destroy soul and body in hell. Matt 10:28
The body and the soul are going to be tormented.
These will go away into eternal punishment Matt 25:46
He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. Revelation 14
The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever and there is no rest, day or night. So it is a present torment with fire and restlessness.”
He concludes that hell is a horrible and fearful thing which teaches us that our sin is a horrible and fearful thing and God’s holiness is a horrible and fearful thing to be opposed by and the cross of Christ who endured hell for all his people for all time is the most precious event in the history of the world.
Nothing that we suffer on earth compares to the extent of this suffering.
Which means we have hope.
Which means that our suffering is temporary.
Which means that it is true when he said:
“In his favour is life: Weeping will last for a night, but there will be joy in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”2 Cor 4:17
Which means that one day we will be able to say:
“Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: Thou hast put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness. To the end that my glory may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto Thee for ever.” — Psalm 30:11,12.
Dear Lord, when our spirits torment us, when we are in physical and emotional pain, when we look at the future and see no hope, help us to cling on to you our rock, as you speak words of love into our hearts. Help us to cling onto your promises and remember that our afflictions are just for now and our reward far exceeds all our expectations. Amen.
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