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Questions on the Afterlife: "If we know some loved ones are in hell, how can we truly be happy?

This is an exceedingly difficult question to answer because it seems as though the thought of eternal conscious punishment of anyone would put a damper on our happiness in the New Creation, let alone the thought of the eternal conscious punishment of those we loved dearly in this life. To make matters even more concerning, I think there is a question hidden within this question that is even more important to us: “How could God really be a ‘good and loving God’ if I am concerned about the eternal suffering of others while he seems not to be?”

Let’s answer the second question first. 

God is concerned with the eternal suffering of humanity. Scripture tells us that God desires that all would be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), and the very possibility of salvation for those who were dead in their sins shows that God doesn’t want humanity to be condemned to hell. 

It is the height of arrogance and foolishness to think that we are more compassionate than God. Whether we realize it or not, this question hidden within our first question reveals to us that we do not know God as we ought, because we assume ourselves more compassionate than he is. Rest assured in this: God loves your loved ones infinitely more than you could ever fathom.

But now the first question; “How can we be happy knowing others are suffering in hell?” If our first question betrayed a lack knowledge of God in this life, this question betrays a lack of love for God in this life. 

I say that because if we truly loved God as we ought, then we would truly understand how offensive sin is to God’s holiness and character. Much like the old hymn, “It is Well,” the person who sees sin as the scourge it is to God would look at those who have received the just punishment for their sin and cry out, “It is well with my soul.”

It does not sound compassionate, and indeed it can sound downright calloused, but in the New Creation, the people of God will know God and love God so much that the awareness of hell will not cause a lack of happiness but rather an affirmation of God’s righteous judgments from the whole heavenly host. The notion of such a response sounds unthinkable to us in this life.