Two of my closest friends, Linda, Nancy and I were talking about hell, a discussion complete with devil’s advocate (every pun intended or not). We wondered if hell actually exists. The reason being, how could God, who loves us all more than anyone or thing in this universe condemn people to hell? God, who created us and loves us more than we can even imagine, how does hell figure in?
We all know that saints have told us about hell. Dante’s Inferno certainly talks about hell and the 7 Deadly Sins. Job’s situation for a time was beyond awful. . .because God “allowed” satan to take away Job’s wife and family, his livelihood, his health because God knew Job to be a righteous man. Job asks God why and together they have a colloquy about who made creation, who made Job, etc. . . .of course God wins that discussion and restores Job to health and wealth.
So now the discussion between Linda, Nancy and I go on to talk about the idea that maybe there is no hell, but a purification place ~ purgatory where those who did not live a life of love, compassion and service would go.
My thoughts then went to a semi-serious comment someone somewhere made saying basically that the people you don’t expect in Heaven will surprise you when you get there. This then begs the discussion about what does God do when someone like a Hitler or Osama bin Laden passes from this life to the next?
A very respected man of God once offered this idea. . .what happens just before a person dies??? What are their last thoughts??? Do they cry out to God??? He said, “I have a sneaky suspicion that when that person, no matter what they have done in this life, cries out to God – the God they worship (we all worship the same God – and this is my own humble opinion – even though God may be called by different names). So the person cries out to God to save him/her. This man of God said, I believe that as that person is falling to hell, God in His infinite mercy and compassion will reach out His loving arm, grasp the soul and bring it to Himself.
I know this statement is controversial. This is a bold statement, but one I love to think about. In my very human brain, I have a hard time thinking of God as one who condemns the creatures he made out of great love be thrown into the “fires of Gehenna”.
God says through Isaiah – “Can a mother forget the child of her womb? Even if she forgets, I will never forget you”.
I am a mother and a grandmother and I can’t begin to imagine leaving my child to die because of misdeeds, even gross and fatal misdeeds. After all, this is my child who is in need of correction and punishment, but fire??? If I can feel this way about my child, how much more would God the Father feel for His children???
Such interesting questions. Then I thought about the parable of the workers in the field. So, while the workers are in the field, other workers were hired much later in the day. However, when the time came to be paid, the late hires were given as much as the workers who worked all day. It would stand to reason, our human reason, that the workers who came in late should have been paid less, but God had other reasons.
Even though I probably badly paraphrased this parable, it really made me and the rest of us think about that parable and wondered if it in any way related to the idea of who really does get to Heaven.
I love to ponder things like this and I am still pondering. . .I wonder what you think about the things I have mentioned. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say.
May you be blessed!
Sandy Ozanich (c) June 2013