And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever.
Revelation 14:11a (NIV)
The idea of an everlasting state of torment and remorse for those who reject God is very disturbing to me. I have been struck by this thought again recently because Josh and I have been watching testimonials of near death experiences (NDEs) on youtube.com, and the descriptions of hell match a literal testimony of the Bible. When it says there will be fire and worms that don’t die, it’s not just speaking metaphorically. I lost touch with the brute reality of hell and its horror because of many academic dialogues on the topic (including philosophically-motivated alternative explanations of certain scripture passages). Now that I’m reminded of just how horrible of a place it is and that real people are going there, I’m very troubled. I really hope that we will find out that God has a plan to reconcile the people in hell to himself… because if hell really is for eternity, then I think a lot of people will be surprised.
Jesus, I pray that you will grant me a deep sense of compassion for those who don’t know you. You grieve for every soul who rejects you, and you rejoice for every soul who delights in you. I pray that you would help me to have your heart for the hurting, empty people in this world so that I will not hesitate to minister to them. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.