A Picture of Hell?

The Night Cafe by Vincent Van Gogh

The clock behind the bar in the Night Cafe has just struck 1AM. There is no sign of darkness here. Three large lamps light up the bright red and green room.The light is so bright it makes us squint just looking into this scene.

The bartender, and maybe owner, strolls through the cafe as if to survey the scene of "the night before". The pool table filling the center of the cafe is now vacant of players and sits with 3 remaining balls unpocketed. As we survey the room with the bartender our eyes go to the two people passed out on the right. Are they drunk? Are they sleeping? Are they shielding their eyes from the light? Maybe all three.

Continuing around the room we see two chairs pulled up close but the people are gone. The next two tables are also vacant of customers except for the empty bottles and glasses that have been the evening's pleasure. Next, tucked back a bit in the picture is a woman holding her head in her hands. She sits alone and quiet.

Finally our eyes come to the only life in the place other than the bartender. A man and woman sit talking over their wine. The light directly over them in the picture brings our eyes to rest on them, still talking at 1AM.

The more we look at this picture the more troubled we become. The bright lights and garish colors hurt our eyes especially when it's the middle of the night. The tired, passed out customers pull us into sleep with them. The patrolling of the owner and emptiness of the chairs and tables tell us instinctively that the day is done and all should be home and in bed. But in the Night Cafe there is no night. The gestapo style lighting feels the kind that will never go out.

Is this a small picture of what Hell will be like? Could Van Gogh have painted his version of Hell? We might think of Hell as being a deep hole full of fire. But could it be an empty place where the light never goes out and people pass out for lack of true rest and peace? Could Hell be the Night Cafe?

King Solomon wrote in one of his proverbs, "The person who strays from common sense will end up in the company of the dead." Proverbs 21:16
Common sense is a gift from God that keeps us progressing along a sensible path for our life. It's often what comes through the voice of God's Spirit directing us one way or another. When we ignore this inner advice and stray from common sense then we may well end up with people like ourselves disjointed and lost. We may end up in the company of the dead.

Learn to listen to the still small voice that speaks within you and act upon it. It may keep you in the company of the living and out of the Night Cafe.

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