"If your child asks for a fish, do you give a snake instead?" - Luke 11:11
A woman's son committed suicide following decades of hard living that caused deep pain to himself and others. According to the woman's religious upbringing, she was sure her son was in hell because of the way he lived and died. Yet the idea of her son's suffering continuing for eternity was unbearable. She went to her pastor for help.
The pastor listened carefully as the woman poured out her broken and grieving heart. Then the pastor said, "I want you to close your eyes and imagine your son, having passed from this life and standing before the throne of God. As he stands there his whole life is on display. All of the terrible things he did, all of the harm he caused is laid bare. Can you picture that?"
"Yes" said the distraught mother.
The pastor went on. "Now imagine yourself standing beside God as you both look upon your son. How do you feel?'
"Scared," said the woman. "I'm afraid of what God will do."
The pastor asked, "What do you want to do?"
She said, "I want to rush forward and put my arms around my son!"
The pastor said, "You wouldn't get there fast enough because God would have already embraced him with tears streaming down God's face, whispering, "Welcome home, my son. Welcome home."
If fallible human beings would not condemn their children to eternal suffering, even those who have caused great harm, would God do any less for Her children?
Praise to you, grieving and forgiving Mother of all humanity. Amen.
Small Group Discussion
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Matt Laney is a United Church of Christ minister and the author of breakout The Pride Wars fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for young readers ages 8-12. The first book, The Spinner Prince, will be available in April, 2018.