“What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881)
THIS IS NO eschatological (end times) article. No, what we are dealing with is the sense of everyday heaven and everyday hell – the sense of experiential heaven and experiential hell. It’s about the life choices we make – those for life and those for death.
If we had the inability to love – which would mean we wouldn’t experience compassion and gentleness and patience toward others in any fervent amount or to any significant effect – then we would live without the pulse of God’s Spirit throbbing through the veins to our hearts. That would be a travesty. We wouldn’t simply miss the meaning of life, but we’d miss the treasures of heaven, altogether. That is to say, we would miss God and have no link, no experience, and no clue as to the Divine. We would our joy come from? Or, for that matter, our hope?
If we were to get angry with those who have an apparent lack in their grasp on love, we might miss our opportunity to see what they are truly lacking – a grasp on God, on life, on a real and living experience of heaven.
Loving Those In Their Chosen Reality of Hell
Why would we not quietly pity these instead of secretly berating them? They, though they make life a misery for their contemporaries, cannot receive what Christ came to give them. Their staunch stubbornness is a grating nemesis against their very selves. It’s so silly, but we must wonder how terribly shocking it must be to live their lives. Having empathy for the dispassionate one protects our sense of compassion – that we might viably be compassionate, patient and tolerant with the very persons who seem to have none of such virtue.
Then we know the aspect of God’s grace that has grown from seed to a fuller maturity in us: when we might pity the person who hurts us, yes truly pity them, and in no sense of pride, either. It is love that compels us to want more for them than they would receive for themselves.
Love pushes us to nurture compassion and warmth and space for them.
We should pray for those in our lives who cannot seem to love – who lack compassion, patience, kindness, tolerance, etc. Those who have not been touched by love exist in life as if it were a living hell. Our role is to keep loving; to keep nurturing hope that God would soften their hearts into heaven.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.