“Why?” I whispered, my voice cracking. “Why would someone without hope risk the horrors of deep hell to help me find my way? Why would you do all this if you truly believe that in the end God has abandoned you?”

She gazed into the distance. “God has loved to the point of dying a horrible death of His own so that men and women would not have to languish here for eternity. He stooped from heaven to hell to suffer alone these depths of disgrace and pain. Was ever there love like that? Even if it does not reach to where I am, such love deserves my homage.”

“But you could pay homage while remaining safely in the shadows of Limbo,” I said. “Why are you enduring so much for a stranger who deserves so little?”

“Though I cannot hope to see God face-to-face, yet I can draw close to Him by wearing His humility and sharing in His sufferings. Even an orphan can take comfort in following the footsteps of a father she will never embrace, wrapping herself in the cloak he has left behind.”

I squeezed her hand. “Maybe you’ll embrace Him after all. Maybe He’ll come in the end.”

“He already came once, Thomas. But I was born in the wrong time and place.”

I shook my head. “Could a love so far-reaching be yet so unfair?”

“Think of it, Thomas. The Jewish nation had no idea for centuries that they might hope for heaven, for an eternal life in the presence of God. They hoped for an earthly messiah and his kingdom, but after death all they had to look forward to was Limbo.

“Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, and thousands of others served God faithfully with no promise of eternal reward. As far as they knew, that shadowy land was their everlasting lot – and yet they still gave their lives to God. Our notion of fairness is often only a matter of our expectations.”

My Visit to Hell, by Paul Thigpen

Our notion of fairness is indeed something to consider, isn’t it? How many times have I gone to God in my best whiny-two-year-old voice and complained about “fairness” and His warped ideas about it? Whose the one with warped ideas?

About this time last year, I was rereading The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis, and I remember that, both times I read that last year, I felt that it was a preparation for an examination of conscience, a gentle nudge pushing me in the direction of confession. I feel the same about this book, and I can’t wait to reread it later on to see if it has the same impact on me.