So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13, verse 6.
This verse actually goes hand-in-hand with verse 5; as you’ll remember, that verse concludes with “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” God will never forsake us and never abandon us no matter what we’ve done. Even if we lead a life of despicable sin, He will work until our very last moment to turn our hearts back to Him. When we realize that, we GET TO shed even our worst fears.
Knowing that gave Jesus the courage to hang in agony on the cross. Knowing that let all His disciples save one to go to their deaths as martyrs. Knowing that has allowed missionaries for two thousand years to go into the field, turn their worlds upside down, and even risk death for the sake of being “there” and being able to say “do you know this Jesus?” Knowing that enables you to stand and say “I believe” even when pressures of friends, family, and the world challenge you to deny it.
The world, the devil, and other people can kill your body but nobody can extinguish your soul. That’s the ultimate truth of faith, namely that eternity really does matter most.
Have you considered that, if you’re consigned to hell, you’re alive? You aren’t annihilated. You’re conscious there of what’s happening and you know it forever. The “life” one leads in hell isn’t the living for which we’re intended. Indeed, it’s the full consequence of the sins we embrace in this life that separate us from the heart of God. It is the ultimate separation from the love that makes life worth living. Misery, anguish, sorrow, pain, torture: they exist from the inside out for all who walk through hell’s gate. Hell isn’t a place to which God sentences us: it’s the place we choose while we’re here by continually rejecting Him.
Here on the Third Rock, each of us lives as a sentient body for only so long and then we enter eternity. During our time here, God continuously provides for us life, food, water, air, shelter, and love. He does it until our very last heartbeat. It’s up to us what we do with those things He gives to us. Do we only consume them, or do we consume and share them? Are we only existing or are we existing and thanking God that we are? Can we get by with what we have or can we get by and then use our time, talents, and treasures to share with others as God shares? What will you believe and then what will you do about that?
When we turn to God, He begins His work in us. For us, it starts with “I believe”, realizing that Jesus has already done everything needed for that to happen. The path to hell is changed into a guaranteed entrance into heaven. He takes up residence in our hearts and begins to work from the inside out. He helps us in all we think, say, and do. No we don’t always get it right, and sometimes we do terribly wrong. That doesn’t mean God has abandoned us. It means we’ve chosen something else. Yet even in the middle of those choices, God’s Spirit is still within us and beckons us to choose differently. We get to choose life even when we’ve previously chosen death. To turn from the heart-attitude that caused us to sin and let Him scour it out. He helps us and flourishes in us. When that happens, we can’t help but share it, we can’t help but want to follow and do His better will.
When that happens, we begin to realize that nothing can extinguish His love inside us, and nothing can take it away, and nothing can overcome it. Satan and his world may kill us for it but that won’t stop it. In the next life, God’s love comes to full miraculous fruition. Can you imagine, then, what even a hint of His love could do here and now?
The robbers next to Jesus on Calvary both heaped insults and scorn on Him as they hung there dying. Yet sometime during that day, one of them realized his sin and appealed to Christ for mercy. In that very moment, Jesus promised the man eternity in paradise; you can have confidence that he’s there now. Even in those moments of physical torture, God filled up this man’s heart and gave him the courage to die and then truly live. There are stories of mercy even in the Holocaust of World War II. There is the story of the girl at Columbine who stood up for her faith and was summarily murdered for it. Just this past weekend, 26 believers were slaughtered by a lunatic who had gleefully abandoned God. Those people are more alive now in heaven than they ever were here; I feel pity for the killer who is probably alive some place else. All of these are manifestations of God’s promise to always help us and quench our fears. When He is with us, there’s no need to ever be afraid of anything the world thinks it can do.
For further reading: Psalm 118:6-7, Matthew 13:50, Revelation 20:14-15.
My saving Lord, thank You so much for always being with me. Thank You for inspiring courage in me. Thank You for always working Your will in my life. Help me to better live out Your wonderful will today.