Sometimes a phrase becomes so commonplace that it ceases to lose its meaning. We find this with niceties like saying “Bless you” after someone sneezes. Or we find it it repetitious practices that, once sacred, have become meaningless habits, such as the ritualized practice of saying grace before a holiday meal is for many families. We use words like awesome, amazing, and wonderful as terms for describing our day or the surf conditions, and we are left inept to describe the majesty of God.
What works in the positive, can also work in the negative too. Recently I was reminded of this when a friend described a job situation as a “living hell.” Sure it was a colorful description, but it wasn’t an accurate one. First of all, hell, by definition is full of death because it is the only place that is removed from God’s presence. Therefore signifying that life and hell could co-habitate is a nonsequitar (Some may argue that they have been taught that wherever your final destination you experience for eternity, but using Scriptural definitions, we cann’t rightly call permanent expulsion from God’s presence “life.”) Secondly, as bad as conditions can be on Earth, and I know that they can be very, very bad, we still ultimately live under God’s watchful eye. In hell, this protection, this covering of grace that ensures the rising of the sun at the beginning of every day, is no longer a part of our existence. Therefore, regardless of how bad a job may be it surely doesn’t equate with this destitution.
What mostly concerned me though, is that the person was a believer. So not only do they get to experience God’s grace as it pertains to His sustaining force on their life (let’s call this a general grace), but they get to experience His personal grace that came as a result of their trust and faith in Him and allows for personal communion with their Savior. Regardless of how bad their job was, they had the Ever-Powerful Creator to turn to and lead upon. How can it be a living hell when God is always beside them (Hebrews 13:5)?
The theme has this blog has been, and will continue to be, to focus on the better things ahead, the things of heaven, and I think this is rightly so because when our focus is on these things, we understand Earth in the right perspective. However, just as we are to take heaven seriously, so should we take its alternative. And may doing so increase our commitment and our urgency sharing our future home with others (John 14:2).
*A closing thought – while I believe that heaven is grander and that hell is worse than anything we can experience on this Earth, I by no means intend to make light of the genuine pain, heartache, and destitution that can occur at our current place of resident. For those who feel like God has abandoned them, please do not despair. His love for you is so much He sacrificed everything for you.