Along with two other men (so far), I pastor some people with some deep, deep wounds from broken families and from awful or absent fathers. And today, after being shaken by one of those stories, a comfort the Lord brought to my mind from Scripture is this: The chasm between Hell and Heaven.
It’s a great hope.
There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’
How is that a hope to me right now, as I’m grieving the past and present pain of my brother in Christ?
Because once my friend is with his Savior face to face, his unrepentant father will have no more wounds to inflict.
The final coming chasm between Hell and God’s people is one way of God telling every unrepentant belligerent, every drunken and abusive dad, every nasty and violent parent or relative who refuses, to the end, to repent and bend their knees to King Jesus: “Once I have brought my busted saint home, you will have inflicted your last damage.”
When you have an unrepentant drunk who takes his bitterness and his selfishness out on little kids, kids who end up believing in Jesus, or when you have this rich man who viewed Lazarus the way you or I would view a weed, one of the justices of Hell is that the person who ends up there can’t sting the saint anymore.
Their hate cannot cross over.
That hateful father’s sin can cry out from an echo chamber, but it will not deafen his little boy’s ears ever again. He is hearing a different voice, now. Different altogether.
And to the unrepentant dad on the other side of that chasm, that voice says something he may have never expected.
“There is a great chasm, here. You cannot hurt him anymore. You cannot wound him. All that is over. Look around you at where you are. Your power is gone.
“And his power is me.”