Some famous people were once asked what they felt was the saddest word in the English language. Here’s what some of them said:
Poet T.S. Eliot: “The saddest word in the English language is, of course, ‘saddest.’ ”
Lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II: “But.”
Writer Jon Dos Passos quoting John Keats: “Forlorn! The very word is like a bell.”
Psychiatrist Karl Menninger: “Unloved.”
Statesman Bernard M. Baruch: “Hopeless.”
Harry S. Truman quoting John Greenleaf Whittier: “For all the sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been.’ ”
Alexandra Tolstoy: “The saddest word in all languages which has brought the world to its present condition, is ‘atheism.’ ”
If you put all of these answers together, you have a faint picture of a soul without Christ. Perhaps that word used by Keats captures it: “Forlorn.” It comes from the German word verloren which means “lost.” The words of St. Paul come to mind: “Without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).
Years ago, one of the kids got separated from us in a crowded stadium. Scanning the huge crowd, I zeroed in on him in another aisle, his eyes darting in all directions. I saw him. He did not see me. I will never forget that look of panic, of “lostness” on his little face, nor the pounding of my own heart when I turned around and he wasn’t there. Worse yet is when some child wanders off in a mall or at a carnival, has the time of his life, and doesn’t realize he’s lost until the darkness descends. Some souls spend their whole lives “lost” – without God – and don’t even notice it – until it’s too late.
Christ came to seek and to save the lost. He came looking for us and found us when we sought Him not – when we didn’t even understand how lost we were. That love moves us to look for the lost among us and around us – with the prayer that God may bring them home.