Hell is eternal separation from God. Scripture and the saints describe hell as darkness, a lake of fire, unimaginable suffering, and torment with no end.
God created us with freedom, asking us to choose or reject eternal life with him. God makes us free because love must be free. He must suffer our sin in order to make us capable of love.
God offers us this incredible choice, and he honors our decision. Souls who reject a life of self-giving love—who choose against God and do not repent—embrace independence from God and suffer the deprivation of his presence for eternity. Apart from him there is no goodness, joy or hope. This is hell.
“The fire of hell is the burning need for God that has been closed off because of one’s choice of independence from God.”
At death, we are what we have decided to be and cannot change. The consequences of our choices in time are eternal. Until then, God works for our salvation every moment to gently redirect our wayward steps back to him. God wants us to rejoice with him in heaven infinitely more than we do. Like the Prodigal Son, may we always return to the Father’s mercy.