Mao Zedong in Hell.
There's a book by Randy Alcorn called Safely Home. It is about Christianity in China, and is an extremely powerful book. In one section, Alcorn portrays what he thinks Hell is like for Mao Zedong. Yes, that means Alcorn believes there is such a thing as Hell. I believe it, too, and it is no joking matter. If there is a hell, then it is for our eternal good that we contemplate it. Mayhaps God will save us from such a horrible fate.
The way Alcorn portrays Hell here does at least two things for me. The first is that I am inspired more and more to trust God to save me. The second is that I realize just how much I wouldn't wish this fate on anyone.
Some would disparage this hell-mongering. They would claim I am trying to scare people into Christianity. They would claim I am trying to make people feel miserable, unworthy, evil, hopeless. To that I would claim, "Guilty as charged!" Without Christ, we all of us are all those things. But in Christ, the picture is not the opposite. The good is so much more good than the evil is evil. I think the Bible uses the pictures both of Heaven and Hell, because it recognizes that human beings respond better to both positive and negative encouragement.
Incidentally, before I quote this section, which is quite long, I should issue a disclaimer. I'm not sure of the legality of quoting such a long section. If someone shows me I should not have done it, I will delete it from this post and simply provide a reference. Here is the quote.
Where is my palace? Where are my servants? Does no one know who I am?
The vast, cold darkness cut into his face. It felt like intense frostbite, burning his skin.
I was the most powerful man in Zhongguo. I created the People's Republic. I was the revered father of my country. They worshipped me. I was god! He waited, listening to the silence. Cannot anyone hear me?
His voice disappeared into the great dark void. It did not echo, for there was nothing for it to echo off. It was immediately absorbed into infinite nothingness. His words went no farther than his blistered lips.
A parade of untold millions marched inside his mind's eye. His sentence was to relive the suffering of each of his victims. He had been here over twenty-five years. Every minute of those years he had relived the sufferings he inflicted on others. Every torture his regime inflicted he now received, one after the next after the next. Eventually, perhaps, they would start over, so the millions he had already endured were but the first installment. The pain was unbearable, yet he had no choice but to bear it. There was no escape into unconsciousness - no drug to take, no sleeping pill, no alcohol. That which he had laid upon others was now laid upon him - endlessly, relentlessly.
He longed to pluck out his eyes, to keep from seeing what he saw, to puncture his eardrums to keep from hearing the wailing misery, to pull out his tongue to keep from tasting the awfulness he had legislated. But he had no ability to destroy himself. He had no control now over his destiny, no power over himself or others. There was no one he could command to fix the situation, no one to prepare him an eight-course meal to assuage the eternal hunger, no one to do his work, no one to punish for their errors. No one to salute him, cower at his voice, or bow heads in his presence.
Where is everyone?
Misery loves company, and he had long sought the consolation of others. But all others were still on earth, secure in heaven, or confined to their own private hells at distances immeasurable.
The aloneness was stifling. He could hear nothing but his victims' cries, feel nothing but their pain, see nothing but their blood, taste nothing but their vomit, sense nothing but their torture. He had only himself. He could not enjoy his own company, for he saw himself as he really was. It was an ugly sight, revolting beyond comprehension.
He felt a burning. A fury welled up inside him. Anger and bitterness, unfocused hostility, frustration leading him to lash out. But there was no one to lash out at. No incompetant aide, no dissident, no Christian pastor, no helpless peasant. No one to beat or shoot or hang or starve. No one to cower in fear at the power of the great chairman, architect of the Republic. No one to shine his shoes or rub lotion upon his burning feet.
Grief and rage warred within him. His hell was a growing cancer, gnawing at him, eating away at him, devouring him. He was like a bush that burned yet was not consumed, so the burning could never stop.
He had come to death entirely unprepared - and now it was too late to prepare. If the torture was not enough, a sickening feeling of foreboding had gripped him from his first moments here. He had hoped it would subside, that he would get used to it. He hadn't. It only got worse.
He could see now through all his rationalizations. His arguments against belief in a Creator had never been intellectual ones, as he had claimed. By rejecting a Creator he thought he could rid himself of a Judge. But it had not worked. His atheism had been the opiate of his soul and the executioner of uncalculated millions. But now his comforting atheism could no longer exist, even for a fleeting moment, for he had been forever stripped of the power to deny reality.
He had lived his short todays as if there were no long tomorrows. He had believed the lie that all were accountable to him and he was accountable to none. He had believed the lie that death would slip him into eternal unconsciousness. He knew now - how well he knew - the curse of always being awake, ever alert, unable to allay his suffering with a moment's sleep or distraction.
The winds of hell blew upon him. On them floated sounds of laughter and joy from a place far distant. These voices were torture. Many he recognized as belonging to Christians he had persecuted, worshippers of the Carpenter he had murdered. He relived what he had done to them, this time on the other end of the cattle prod. By the time he had died, while he and all he stood for were in decline, they and all they embraced were in ascent. They had beaten him. Their King had dethroned him even in the other life - how much more in this one.
As they celebrated in their far-off realm, at first he had imagined they were cursing him, celebrating his demise. He thought of them as his eternal enemies who would forever speak of what a great foe he had been to them. But he had come to realize something far worse. They did not curse him. They did not relive his great campaigns against him. No. They simply did not think of him at all. He was unimportant. Insignificant. In the eternal scheme of things, he did not matter.
Not matter? How dare they ignore me! Don't they know who I am?
He had said, "I want there to be no God; I want nothing to do with him." His atheist's prayer had been answered. The everywhere-present God had chosen to withdraw his presence from this single place, turning it into a cosmic desert. This was a ghetto of massive proportions, yet so small it could slip through a single crack in the tiles of heaven. It was located in some distant and empty place, never to be feared or even stumbled upon by the citizens of Charis. His life, with all his supposed accomplishments, was but a puff of smoke, dissipating into nothingness.
Stop what you're doing and listen to me! Stop or I will... I will...
No power to give meaning to a threat. No reason to be listened to. And no one to hear him.
Thirst without water to quench it. Hunger without food to satisfy it. Loneliness without company to alleviate it. There was no God here. He'd gotten his wish. On earth he'd managed to reject God while still enjoying his blessings and provisions. But it was excruciatingly clear now that God was the author of good. Therefore the absence of God meant the absence of good. He could not have it both ways, not here. No God, no good. Forever.
He had wanted a world where no one else was in charge, where no order was forced upon him. He had finally gotten it. He had secretly wondered if there was something beyond death, but if he went to hell, he'd fully expected to rule there. Yet there was no king, for there were no subjects. Only one prisoner - himself - in eternal solitary confinement.
He missed the sound of laughter. There was no laughter here, nor could there be, for laughter cannot exist without joy or hope. An awful realization gripped him. There was no history here. No story line. No opening scene, no developing plot, no climax, no resolution. No character development. No travel, no movement. Only a setting of constant nothingness, going nowhere. Excruciating, eternal boredom. Nothing to distract him from the torment of the eternal now.
He had charmed his friends and cheated his enemies, but death he could not cheat, hell he could not charm. This nameless, ever-shriveling man writhed in terror. Faced with his own deeds, punished by them, he was receiving in himself the penalty for what he had done. He longed for a visit from a foreign dignitary, delivered by a courier, a request for an audience in his illustrious presence. But no. He knew now none would ever come, or even want to. He could not return to Beijing - and knew Beijing itself would soon be gone, a flower withered in a summer's wind. Perhaps it was gone already.
No one to fear him. No one to revere him. No one to hear him. No one to think about him.
He who had claimed to be savior was forever without a Savior. Ignored and insignificant. Empty and embittered and regretful. Without a following. Without a heart. Without a hope.
Forever, time without end.
There is a way out! You need not fear this Hell. You must believe in the God of the Bible, and repent of your sins, and trust on Jesus Christ to save you from your sins.
But a further word of warning: I would be remiss if I did not tell you what it is you do if you repent and trust in God. You are leaving one kind of slavery and warfare for a different kind of slavery and warfare. Christianity is warfare, and if you are a Christian, you are a soldier. Christianity is not peace with the world, the flesh and the devil. You should not expect a life of ease. You must fight this good fight.
And what is the goal of this fight? Heaven, or Charis as Alcorn calls it. Heaven is rest, perfect peace. Communion with God. Rewards beyond anything you can imagine. Think of the most blissful thing that has ever happened to you, and try to imagine that experience multiplied infinitely over, and deepened and broadened. And then I tell you truly, that has not even scratched the surface of what Heaven will be.