The Saddest Word

What’s the saddest word you can think of?

I don’t mean “sad” or “depressed”. I mean the saddest word. The word with the saddest connotation you can muster. Take your time, and actually think about this.

To some, it is “oppression”, “alone”, “missing”, “regret”, “would’ve”, “sorry”, “pain”, or whatever other word you may have come up with.

I would have to say that the saddest word I can imagine is “almost”.

“We almost were together.”

“He almost made it.”

“I almost got the job.”

“I almost saved the day.”

“We almost got her back.”

“She almost stayed.”

“It almost happened.”

The definition of “almost”: not quite; very nearly.

It has the connotation that something was about to happen, and then it all fell apart. Of course, this can be used positively, and I’m not denying that. “That car almost hit us” or “He almost died” or “I almost got arrested” or whatever connotes a positive, a saving from the negative consequence. But that’s not the connotation I’m using. I’m using the negative connotation (and if that is cheating, too bad, because I make the rules).

It can be used against someone, as in “You are almost what we were looking for”, implying that you don’t measure up. But it isn’t that you came in last, because at least you didn’t have a chance, right? “Almost” implies you were fourth place at the Olympics, just shy of getting a medal. You finished second place, just shy of first, just shy of winning, just shy of being number one. “You were almost enough”, implying that you can’t satisfy completely as you are. You can satisfy a good bit, but not enough, and there will always need to be something else to make up for your deficit. “Almost”, when used negatively against a person, leaves the sting of just missing the goal, of just missing being enough in whatever.

When it is used in a situation, it is even worse. The doctor comes out of the operating room and tells you he almost made it. But almost didn’t save him, it condemned him. Or you almost missed that car, or that kid. Or he almost proposed. Your significant other was almost faithful. In all of these situations, “almost” is the teasing, mocking word. It laughs, it smirks as people fail right before they succeed. The taunting, smiling tormentor is “almost”. That feeling of being right there, having it right there, having them right there, and then not making it. Almost!

Almost counts in far more things than just horseshoes and hand grenades. It is a very sobering, serious, saddening word. The worst way I’ve ever heard it is in regards to salvation. In Acts 26, Paul has been falsely imprisoned, and the current governor Festus has no idea what to about this religious dispute between the Jews and Paul. Festus calls in King Agrippa, king of Judea at the time, in hopes that he might be able to figure something out.

King Agrippa gives Paul permission to speak, and Paul gives his testimony in verses 4-23, from his Jewish upbringing and zealous Judaism to his current situation. It is in verse 24 that Festus interrupts, accusing Paul of going crazy because of all his academic pursuits. Paul refutes that, and turns to King Agrippa to offer salvation to him. King Agrippa’s response is in verse 28:

Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.”

Agrippa says to Paul “I’m almost there. I’m almost convinced. I’m almost saved”.

And, as far as we can tell from the Biblical account, that was it. Agrippa never trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior, but he almost did. He got close. The offer was made, and he almost took it. Almost.

That almost damned him to an eternity in hell. An eternity away from God and all that He is. An eternity to think about how he could have been saved. An eternity to try and remember the last face he ever saw, the face of the man who died in his place that he might not have to endure hell. An eternity to think about this one “almost”.

Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ”

You have sinned. God has not. God can not sin. Therefore, you almost made it to His standard. But you didn’t. You sinned. I sinned. We chose our own selfish pleasures and desires over God’s desires. That relationship has been severed. Nothing you do can restore that relationship. Your good works are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) to God. You’ve got nothing with which to barter for your salvation at death. This isn’t even an almost good enough, this is a completely and totally wicked and opposed to God (Romans 5:10).

You have been separated from God, unable to do anything to get back to Him. He knew that, and so He gave you and me a way to restore that relationship. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to live a perfect life and take the punishment for our sin. Through His death and payment for our sins, we can be accounted as righteous by trusting in what Christ has done for us.

Jesus Christ died for your sins and rose from the grave (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Don’t be like King Agrippa who was given the invitation to eternal life and almost accepted it. That almost impacted his entire eternity. Jesus Christ took your place, died for your sins, and rose from the grave, claiming victory over death so that we can all spend eternity with God, in a restored relationship. All you have to do is believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins and rose from the grave, and that His work on the cross is the only thing that allows you to get into heaven.

Don’t make the mistake of “almost”, or else it will become the saddest word.

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