As I compose this, a man I barely know lies on his death bed.
My grandfather has suffered a severe bleed in his brain, can no longer remember who anyone is and fights any care the hospital attempts to give him.
I have maybe met him 5 times in my almost-24 years of life.
There are no fond memories of sitting on grandpa’s lap, listening to stories of his childhood – no Christmas gatherings where he led us all in prayer – no pictures commemorating the passage of lives lived out together.
I can remember the smell of his pipe tobacco and see his smile in my father’s.
None of that really matters though, does it?
Here I am, bitter and disappointed that I never had a grandfather in my life as the man is dying. I feel so selfish.
I mourn, not only for the loss of his life, but for the grandfather I never had. I mourn for my own father, whose relationship with his own dad was cut short before I was even born. I mourn for the soul that does not know Jesus and I beg God that I am wrong.
I know these are the times Jesus desperately desires to break in, redeeming all things and offering hope, life and love.
But how can there be hope when someone has rejected God?
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. – John 3:16-19
Jesus himself said,
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
When, at the core of the Christian faith, there stands an irrefutable truth that man can only know God through Jesus Christ, how can anyone without Jesus have hope?
This is the terrible, hard-to-swallow truth of what we believe: they cannot.
How can I have hope or peace for someone who has seemingly rejected God their entire life?
Because it is the exact opposite of hope.
It is deep, dark, bottomless despair.
And perhaps this is what a life apart from God looks like – both now and after death.
Heart-wrenching. Sick-to-your-stomach. Tragic.