When people think about eternal life, they usually think in terms of specific destinations. We all hope to go to a better place. And, to be honest, we probably all know some people we secretly hope will go to a warmer place.
Have you ever felt like you were in hell? I’ve known many who were. These people were struggling immensely in life. Maybe you have been there, or are now in a position where life is so difficult, you find you are facing the worst you could imagine. We want nothing more than a way out!
There have been some graphic depictions of eternal punishment over the centuries. Classical artists portrayed hell in gruesome and terrifying ways. We’ll be talking this week about the idea of hell and material from Dante’s Inferno and author Dan Brown’s recent book by the same name. One of the lessons from Dante and also from our faith, is that we need a guide and a light of hope to move us out of such a terribly dark place.
I’m grateful the Bible says there is no place where God cannot find us. The person who wrote Psalm 139 voiced it well:
Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol (or hell), you are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you
The darkest, most difficult place for us is not dark to God. The places where we feel most alone or abandoned can be a place God searches us out and finds us. In fact, the Bible and our tradition makes some rather hopeful statements about how God reaches into the most hellish places in life or death to find us, help us, and bring faith to us. On Sunday, we worship the God of grace who brings compassionate help to even the most impossible of circumstances.
Senior Pastor Dave Summers