Why Do We Fear Death?

“I will deliver this people from the power of the grave;
    I will redeem them from death.
Where, O death, are your plagues?
    Where, O grave, is your destruction?
“I will have no compassion,
even though he thrives among his brothers.
An east wind from the Lord will come,
    blowing in from the desert;
his spring will fail
    and his well dry up.
His storehouse will be plundered
    of all its treasures.

  • Hosea 13:14-15

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. …
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:22, 50-58

“If we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They might break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

  • C. S. Lewis, On Living in an Atomic Age

We continue to fret over the COVID19 issue.  Do we wear masks or not?  Do we get vaccinated or not?  Do we make either of these mandatory or simply a suggestion?  And if it is mandatory, will they issue vaccine passports as proof?  Over a year and a half later, we are still consumed by it.

Yet, with the ample evidence that the People’s Republic of China creating the virus and then releasing it accidentally (maybe?), only China seems to be back on their feet.  The rest of the world is in crisis mode, most of the crisis is made through fear.

The remainder of the world is scared.

It all revolves around whether we are going to allow a virus a chance to kill us.  The C. S. Lewis quote is unfolding before our eyes.  I grew up with atomic bomb drills.  We would huddle under our desks, or our recess period would be cut short so that we could walk single file to the cafeteria where there were fallout shelter supplies in case we needed them.  This was the South.  There was no true basement, but the cafeteria was built so that half the cafeteria was dug into the hill.  No one ever figured out that each grade of students filled that space and the elementary school had six grades that would try to share that space if the bomb really hit.  I remember once that a 3rd or 4th grader asked the principal who would ever want to bomb northern Mississippi?  Did the Russian fear we could win the war with cotton fields?

Indeed, we were taught to be scared, but was there really an imminent threat?  And in following C. S. Lewis’ logic, there are many other things that could be more likely to cause death.

And we seem to be denying that we will die.  To summarize some of Job’s laments is that we come into the world, but no one asked us whether we wanted to come.  We will leave this world in death.  Except for suicide, we do not get to choose that event either.  Yet, we choose to live in fear of death.

We can act responsibly as a personal choice.  We can choose who we go out to dine with.  We could set any number of restrictions.

But we need to relearn how to live, really live.

Let us shift the focus from a fear of death to the Joy of life.

With Christ Jesus in our hearts, there is no reason to fear death.  Yes, I do not look forward to that intense pain right before there is no longer any pain, but if my eyes are on the gates of Heaven as they open for me, I could endure that and more.

Yet, my wife says that I am a wimp when it comes to pain.  I think that is because I have a fear of NOT dying.  I fear the constant, prolonged pain that seems to never end.  Now we are talking about something worth at least discussing.

When we are young, death is so distant that we often act like we are invincible.  I was not among that crowd.  I was a klutz.  I had experienced enough pain from stubbing my toe or getting stiches on various parts of my body due to falling down or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I became careful, which may have contributed to more accidents.  In other words, you look up for low hanging limbs on the tree in the backyard and you trip over a root.

But when we read God’s Word and know that we are outside of God’s kingdom, we regain that youthful invincibility again.  We think that tomorrow is a different day and then it will be the right time, but there may not be a tomorrow.

When God gives us reassurance that we are His, the pain leading up to death may not be something to look forward to, but what happens next will be, spending eternity in Heaven with Jesus.

I may be able to do most of what C. S. Lewis suggests we should be doing instead of living in fear.  I do not drink beer, so having a pint is out.  I have dined with a lot of friends lately, without the pint.  And it has been over forty years since I last played tennis, and nearly forty years since racquetball.  But the rest are things I do a lot of anyway.

Let us live while we have the chance.  Let us be responsible.  God will protect us here or He will bring us home, but it is our choice to act like God is in control of both of those options and that He has our best interest at heart.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

2 Comments

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  1. I remember the duck and cover atomic bomb drills when I was in elementary school. This was in southwest Missouri. My school bus drove by a missile silo every day, morning and afternoon. So we had a good reason for believing that we were a target.

    When the Cuban missile crises was going on, my dad, who was our church pastor at the time, told me that the bomb could fall out of the sky at any minute. The end was near, he said, so I had better be ready. Oh, man — I had some wild nightmares back then!

    The Lord has delivered me from several super close calls. I have had two near-death experiences of leaving my body, the first when I was 15, the second when I was 39. I used to be terrified of death, but not anymore. Pain, though, I really don’t like. But after the pain — ETERNAL GLORY! Praise Jesus!

    Liked by 2 people

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