The Saddest Word in the English Language

Paul makes appeal before King Aggripa (courtesy of Wikipedia)
Paul makes appeal before King Agrippa (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. – Acts 26:28 (KJV)

Several sources I checked estimate there are just over one million words in the English language. I profess to know only a fraction of those words so maybe I cannot speak authoritatively, but I do have my candidate for what I consider to be the saddest word in the English language.  No, it is not the word saddest or any of the synonyms for the word including unhappy, despondent, disconsolate, discouraged, depressed or downcast.  My vote is for a word you may not even associate with sadness, it is the word, almost.

Ask any rabid sports fan and they will tell you the heartbreak associated with the word, almost when their team almost won, the game, almost made the playoffs or almost won the championship.  Ask the salesman about the sale they almost closed.  The only group I know who have come to terms with the word, almost are fishermen as they spin yarns about the size of the fish they almost caught.  “Let me tell about the one that got away.”

Almost conveys the sense of being on the doorstep of victory only to have it snatched away at the last minute.  Almost is like a mirage to the thirsty desert traveler, you are so close to the source of refreshing water that you can just about taste it, only to see it vanish before your very eyes.  Almost in the pin that pops the balloon of hope.

In my last post, I spoke about the cost of indecision.   Indecision is in a sense a decision.  If I decide to not file my income taxes or decide not pay outstanding parking tickets, I have decided by my indecision to expose myself negative consequences.  This is the position King Agrippa found himself in after Paul’s impassioned presentation of the Gospel (Acts 26).  Agrippa, who was the grandson of Herod the Great, was as Paul points out, “well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies” (Acts 26:1)(NIV).  This would have included Christianity which at the time was considered a sect of Judaism.  Agrippa’s indecision therefore was not based on a lack of knowledge but rather a lack of the will.  If we examine our own indecision it is generally not the result of insufficient knowledge, but rather an unwillingness to make a decision based on fear, stubbornness or other factors.  Whatever drove Agrippa’s indecision, he missed out on exchanging his temporary earthly kingdom for an eternal, everlasting kingdom.  In fact the earthly reign of the house of Herod ended with Agrippa’s death.

I believe the reason that Satan is such a vicious foe is that he knows the frustration of being on the losing side of almost.  He thinks, at least in his mind, that he almost overthrew God in heaven, that he almost thwarted God’s plan for mankind in the Garden of Eden and that he almost defeated Jesus on the cross.  Truth be told in the struggle between Satan and God, “almost” isn’t even an appropriate descriptor.  Satan may have temporary power, but God possess all power for eternity.  One of Satan’s chief tactics is to get Christians to buy into the myth of almost, to doubt the certainty of victory, but with God the outcome to our struggles is never in doubt.

If you are a Christian living in a world of almost today, I pray that you will renew your mind (Romans 12:2) and not fall prey to the enemy’s message of defeat.  Satan is a worthy but already, vanquished adversary.  If you are not a Christian living in a world of almost, your position is even more precarious.  I pray you will be open to and accept God’s offer of eternal life.

As Pastor Tony Evans has rightly said, “For a Christian, this [meaning this earthly life] is the only hell you will ever know and a non-Christian, this is the heaven you will ever know.”


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  1. Reminds me of the old song “Almost Persuaded.” The last words are “almost, but lost.” Based, of course, on the story of Agrippa. Almost. It really is sad.

    1. Yes almost is really sad for both Christians & non Christians alike. It fools Christians into forgetting they’re saved & are empowered by God it fools non Christians into thinking they’re saved when they aren’t.