Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Abandon All Hope

In my continuing effort to make up for my slacking in High School and getting my Bachelor’s degree I finished a book I was supposed to have read 25 years ago: The Inferno, by Dante. The writer has a chance to climb down through the levels of hell, deeper and deeper until he reaches the place of Lucifer himself. The Father of Lies is chewing on Judas Iscariot and others in the deepest, darkest place imaginable. Finally Dante climbs down the body of the Lord of the Flies and finds that he is now facing UP and looking at the legs of the Prince of Darkness. His guide explains that Satan remains, in fact, where he fell to earth, immovable. His feet and legs remain exposed to light while his head, arms, and torso is firmly imbedded in hell.

It was an interesting ending to his journey but I was captured by the beginning of his journey where he and his guide first entered the upper-most level of hell. Before they entered Dante wrote about a sign that said, “Abandon all hope, you who enter here!” I brushed by that statement the first time I read it but, in retrospect that is one of the best descriptions of hell that I have ever heard. Hell is a place of no hope.

Hope is what drives us in our lives. We hope for a better job. We hope for a better life. We hope our children are healthy and become successful. We hope our parents and siblings have all they need. We hope our candidate can change things. We hope our marriage will get better. We hope, we hope, and we hope some more. Even when the doctor tells us “there is no hope” we still hope. Picture a life without hope. Picture a life where there is nothing you can do or try to make things better, healthier, or longer.

The nature of religion is to put a face on that hope and a solid reason behind that hope. Our Faith tells us that our God is in control and eventually, someday, somehow all that is wrong will be made right. Someday our hopes will be realized and that is what gives us hope. Now picture a life with no hope, no chance of things getting better, no chance of pain going away, no chance of … hope. THAT is hell.

Unfortunately many people choose to be in hell right now. It is not something that is in the future but in the present. If you believe you are in one of the levels of hell right now, without hope, then it is time to take a good hard look at who or what you are putting your faith in. In pre-eternity the loss of hope comes from a weak faith or a weak god; which have you?

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