Hell Happens, Part III: Not Alone
Who told us we’d be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
We’re asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it’s unfair
This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We’d be held
Held by Natalie Grant
Libby Vincent, a professor at Fuller Seminary, theologian and gifted speaker, shared recently at a retreat of the struggles of raising a profoundly autistic son. At one point of complete and utter despair, she admits to crying out loud to God: “Where the hell are you?!”
And the answer was instantaneous…
I’m right there in hell with you.
Nebuchadnezzar, his face purple with anger, cut off Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace fired up seven times hotter than usual. He ordered some strong men from the army to tie them up, hands and feet, and throw them into the roaring furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bound hand and foot, fully dressed from head to toe, were pitched into the roaring fire…
Suddenly King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm and said, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound hand and foot, into the fire?”
“That’s right, O king,” they said.
“But look!” he said. “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!”
Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire…
A roaring furnace, so hot that even the guards died from the heat as they threw the three prisoners into the inferno. And yet, they walked out without even the smell of smoke on their clothes. Where was God while they were thrown into the fire?
Right there in the fire with them.
So often we equate faith with some sort of unattainable perfection. If I were faithful enough, I would not be afraid. If I were faithful enough, I would not doubt.
Yet, the only thing, really, that is asked of my faith is this: be like Jesus.
The night before His crucifixion, in anguish, God With Us begged for another path. In faith, He accepted the path He was on. Not fearless. Still courageous.
In faith, I am afforded the freedom to fear, yet still accept the path I’m on.
Be like Jesus.
I don’t think courage enables a person to face difficulty, danger, or pain without fear. Rather, I think courage enables us to face difficulty, danger, or pain despite fear.
Hell happens. And it happens every day. But we are not alone…
He’s already been there, and back again.
We are held – when the suffering becomes too heavy, and the grief a weight we cannot bear – we cry out marantha…
Come quickly. End this. Please.
And when we cry out in frustration or despair, “Where the hell are you, God?!”
The answer is still the same.
I’m right there in hell with you. Through the storm, through the fire, through the valley of the shadow, through the desert of despair.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39, NIV
Soli Deo gloria…