This is Part 3 of 4 parts answering the question, “What is worse than the suffering that God allows?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Part 4 will be posted tomorrow.
There is a Worse Suffering Than Pain on Earth
Someone asked the question of an on-line question website of what the worst kind of suffering was. There were ridiculous answers given like toothache, sciatic nerve and disease (including mental health problems). I’m not questioning that these are painful. There are certainly other suggested painful possibilities like violence, losing your child, severe burns and chronic trauma. Slavery under totalitarian governments could be rated high including the mental anguish of severe forms of abuse. But are those the most painful?
While the present pain may be excruciating, there is an agony worse than what exists on earth. That would be the endless pain of an eternity separated from the presence of God. Scripture describes this separation as Hell or Hades.
The worst pain in life will be separation from the love of the Father. There are many who are destined to that final punishment, but no one has gone there yet. There is only one person so far who has experienced the complete separation from the Father. That person was Jesus Christ while He hung on the cross. The visual result was darkness that spread over the earth. The auditory result was His human scream, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt 27:46) What is that pain going to be like?
The Worst Suffering a Person Can Experience
The worst form of suffering that people will endure for eternity will be the condition separated from the presence of the Father. Scripture describes that horrible pain and agony in the following ways. First, it will be a place called hell fire. Jesus used a hyperbole to warn against sin, when He said, “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.”(Matt. 18:9 NKJ) It is also described as unquenchable fire. John the Baptist warned, “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”(Matt. 3:12 NKJ) Jesus described it as an everlasting fire, when He said, “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, `Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”(Matt. 25:41 NKJ)
Secondly, it is described as an outer darkness. There is darkness in the city, but when you drive out into the country away from the city lights, the countryside gets very dark. Jesus described this outer darkness, “But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”(Matt. 8:12 NKJ) Jesus spoke of the darkness in a parable, “Then the king said to the servants, `Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”(Matt. 22:13 NKJ) In the parable on the talents, Jesus forewarned, “And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.‘”(Matt. 25:30 NKJ) Peter described this in hyperbole, “These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever(2 Pet. 2:17 NKJ)
Thirdly, the worst form of suffering is described as everlasting destruction. Paul warned the young church at Thessalonica, “These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”(2 Thes. 1:9 NKJ) Notice that this is “from the presence,” which means it is away from His presence or separation from the Lord.
Part 4 will be posted tomorrow.