April 4, 2010
. . . having no hope and without God in the world.
If we refuse to have a rightful connection to God, we doom ourselves to the worst kind of loneliness in the world. Without God to be our companion, we are bereft: left alone and without something we desperately need. Never are we more to be pitied than when we are “without God in the world.”
Being alone is a thing we all fear to some extent. Yet the kinds of loneliness we fear the most are not those that we should fear the most. We think we're in desperate straits when we're bereaved of some earthly relationship we thought we had to have to be happy, but we hardly feel a twinge of loneliness when we're bereft of God. We live rebellious, unrepentant lives such that God can have nothing to do with us, and yet as long as we have a few earthly relationships, we don't worry too much about loneliness. We're alone in the worst way, but we don't feel it, much less fear it.
Jesus, who knew all the lesser kinds of loneliness that we can know, also knew the greatest. On our behalf, He tasted the ultimate form of bereavement: separation from God. On the cross, He cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34). At that hour, Jesus was experiencing not merely the loneliness of one or two people alienated from God, but the full sorrow of every sin committed by every human being who had ever lived or ever would. He knows full well what being bereft means, and He would have us look at this matter more realistically.
Today, when we cut ourselves off from God by our sinful denials of Him, rarely do we let ourselves recognize how bereft we are. As long as this world stands, it is possible to occupy ourselves with other activities – and convince ourselves that we're not all that lonely. Yet without God, we are bereaved of the thing our hearts need most deeply, and we are hastening toward a day of awful confrontation with the truth. To have no hope and be without God in the world is a nightmare of loneliness to any honest person. But honest or not, to be without God in the next world will be worse – worse than any earthly nightmare can know.
No one is so much alone in the universe as a denier of God. With an orphaned heart, which has lost the greatest of fathers, he stands mourning by the immeasurable corpse of the universe. Johann Paul Friedrich Richter