I have some thoughts swirling around in my head this morning that I need to get out. I was up early with a sick child, and when I lay back down to try to sleep again, these thoughts compelled me to get up and write. I believe that someone needs to hear this today.
When I have trouble sleeping, I usually pray. I figure that if I’m awake in the middle of the night, God wants me to spend that quiet time with Him. Often, those prayers are for my loved ones who are far from Him. My heart breaks for those who are missing out on the relationship that I have with my Heavenly Father.
Many people are having difficulty reconciling a God of love with the reality of Hell. We’ve all heard this argument, or maybe you’ve used it yourself: If God is really loving, there’s no way He could send people to Hell.
I agree, and here are my thoughts about it. God truly is love. Absolutely. No doubt about it. He demonstrated that in a way that I would dare say very few of us could have done. He sent His Son to die for us. Could you do that? Could you allow your child to be brutally murdered to save people who are mean and cruel and vile and backstabbing and rude and gossipy and murderous and downright sinful?
I couldn’t. There’s no way. But God did. You know why? Because He loves us more than our human minds can even comprehend. And not only that, but He wants to hang out with us forever. And ever. And ever. That’s a super long time.
So God did the hard part. He sent His Son out of the perfection and comfort of Heaven to be tortured and die. Why? Because Jesus was the only person who ever walked the earth and didn’t do anything wrong. He never sinned. Not one of us could say that about ourselves. Even those who don’t buy into sin and Hell know that they’ve done bad things in their lives. We all have.
Because God is a just God, He can’t be with us if our hearts are rebellious and dirty. We need a sacrifice in order to be forgiven, or in other words, to bridge the gap between us and Him that is created by our sins. Jesus became that perfect sacrifice—once and for all time. He paid the price for our sins so we don’t have to.
Not only does God want us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven, but He loves us so very much that He wants our lives on this earth to go well, too. He has laid out in His Word some guidelines for how we should live. Just like we, as parents, want our children to be safe and healthy and happy, so we have rules and guidelines for how they should behave.
When we live outside of those guidelines, we experience pain and hurt and bad things. We just do. There are consequences when we disobey. Some of the guidelines that come to my mind from God’s Word are:
Be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” [We should be patient and control our anger.] (James 1:19)
“Do not get drunk on wine.” [This is self explanatory.] (Ephesians 5:18)
“Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” [Avoid gossip.] (2 Timothy 2:16)
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure.” [Sex is only for marriage (between one man and one woman).] (Hebrews 13:4)
“He who puts up security for another will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe.” [Don’t co-sign loans for others.] (Proverbs 11:15)
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” [Avoid marrying or entering into business partnerships with people who don’t share your values and beliefs.] (2 Corinthians 6:14)
And so on and so on.
God, as a loving Heavenly Father, gives us many guidelines in His Word for how we should live our lives—not to keep us from having fun or to put a damper on our lives, but to protect us. It’s very much like when we, as parents, see danger that our kids can’t see. We might restrict them from activities that we know are harmful, and they might think we are mean or prudish. In reality, we are protecting them because we know better than they do what is good for them.
When we stray from God’s guidelines and disobey His rules, we suffer. He doesn’t punish us; there are simply consequences when we live outside of the good guidelines that He set out for us. When we go our own way and think our ways are best, we often hurt ourselves and we hurt others.
Along those lines, God doesn’t send people to Hell. People choose Hell (a place of torment and eternal separation from God) when they reject God and His ways. Many people are “wise in their own eyes” and think they know what’s best. Instead of trusting the God who created them and provides for them and loves them, they go their own way and try to satisfy their deepest longings apart from Him. But do you know what? It’s impossible. We can’t fill the holes in our hearts with anything except God. It simply doesn’t work.
I totally get that life is hard and it downright stinks sometimes. We live in a broken, fallen world that is full of pain and heartache. Many people experienced unthinkable pain as children, and Satan has used those wounds to make you believe lies. Some of us have had horrific tragedies thrust into our lives—things that we didn’t ask for or deserve. But God doesn’t cause the pain. Instead, He made a way for us to live forever in a place where there’s no pain.
But we have to choose in this very brief life that we’re living now whether we will live with God for eternity or apart from Him where the pain will never end. He won’t force us to choose Him. And once our hearts stop, it’s too late to change our minds. There’s no do-over once we’re dead.
So if you’ve been struggling with some of these things, I urge you to “Seek the Lord while He may be found.” Run to Him with your hurts and your questions and your doubts. He adores you and longs for a relationship with you. He wants to heal you and fill you with joy and peace and contentment.
In Heaven, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” (Revelation 21:4)
Doesn’t that sound amazing? Won’t you join me there?