Fear of Death vs. Fear in Death

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Recently, there was a discussion in a small Facebook group I belong to. One dear lady confessed to the group her great fear of death and asked for help. I was overwhelmed with the responses from many godly ladies who shared their own fear of death! If nothing else, that sweet gal must have been comforted to know she was not alone! I know my own heart on this subject and thought I would share since I have battled this very thing in my life.

We hear many sermons on death and how there is not fear in death. So, as a Christian, when you feel afraid at the thought of dying, your mind then becomes fearful that maybe you aren’t spiritual…or even saved! Because, as logic would reason, if there were no fear associated with death as a child of God, then why am I so afraid? Am I not ready to die?

My own journey and fear of death started 5 years ago when I awoke paralyzed. We did not know what was happening in my body and why it was attacking itself. Much uncertainty about my future engulfed my mind. A few short months after that, my son was born via emergency c-section and I had many complications from that. Once again, my health seemed so fragile! Then…another couple months and it was to be my first return to church! In the early morning hours, and out of nowhere, vertigo hit me! I have had “dizzy spells” in my life, but this was not even comparable! If you have ever had vertigo, you know what I mean. The room was spinning out of control…like a sci-fi vortex. I closed my eyes so it would stop because I immediately thought I was going to throw up from the movement. When I closed my eyes, I continued to spin out of control. In my mind, I knew I was laying on the bed, but I have never felt such out of control spinning. It was horrible!! At that time, we still did not have a diagnosis for my paralysis and I was convinced that I was dying right then and there of a brain aneurism or stroke or something. I have never been more afraid of dying than I was at that time!

I did not die. I recovered after a couple days. However, in the days that followed, I had a spiritual vertigo of sorts. I felt like my understanding of being a Christian and not having a fear of death, was now out of my control. I did not understand why I so afraid if I was a child of God. We weren’t supposed to be afraid of death! We were supposed to look forward to Heaven and seeing Jesus and leaving all this world and its troubles behind. Well, I did not feel that way! I actually felt very much the opposite! I love Jesus and I am prepared to go to Heaven, but I do not want to go now! I wanted to live!! More than anything, I wanted to live! This is where my journey began to understand what all this meant to face the reality of death as a Christian. I would love to share with you what came to comfort me.

1. It is human to have a fear of death.
God put within our human nature a survival mode. This is why we instinctively jump out of the way of a moving car, or run at the sight of a snake! We know what could threaten our existence and our “fight and flight” instinct jumps into play. Every system in our body changes in the presence of danger. That is our DNA and we cannot change that.

2. Christians are human.
Until we get to Heaven, we will continue to be human. We should spiritually discipline ourselves to trust the Lord, but the reason we have to discipline ourselves to trust the Lord is because it is not in our nature to trust. It is our nature to fear. Being a Christian does not exempt you from human emotions and feelings. To have these feelings of fear is not anti-Christian. It is very pro-human!

3. Loving life leads to living life.
I have been blessed with a happy life. I have a wonderful husband and 6 precious children. Even paralyzed, life is so precious to me. I am thankful for every single day and I enjoy life. Jesus said that He did not come to just give us life, but to give us life more abundantly (John 10:10). When you are living an abundant life, you don’t want to leave it. This does not mean that you are “too attached to this ole’ world” – as I have heard preached. It means that you are living the very life that Jesus gave His life for you to live! To enjoy this life and not want to leave it is a beautiful gift from God and the sign of a spiritually and emotionally healthy person.

4. A fear of death is okay.
If you found yourself inside of a wrecked and burning car, would you try to get out? Why? If you suddenly had horrible chest pains would you go to the hospital? Why? If you cut your leg with a chain saw and blood was spurting everywhere, would you call 911? Why? Or….in all of these examples, would you calmly look up into Heaven and say “Thank you Lord for this opportunity to come on home to you. Thank you that this is my time to go and this is the way you have prepared for me.” We all have a fear of death and we want to avoid it. Jesus said that death is our enemy. Who isn’t afraid of their enemies? This. Is. Normal. And, it is okay to be afraid of death as a Christian.

5. A fear in death will not happen for the child of God.
Aww….now this is a different subject. I have no experience here because I have not ever died. But, I know this. The same God Who has promised us eternity, the same God we are entrusting our souls to, the same God we are trust in a million other non-fearful areas of our life, is the same God who has the power over death….our enemy. He is the same God that will lead us home. Death is very earthly, and we understand earthly…that is why we fear it. The spiritual side of death is a mystery to us that we will not understand until we are in the process of death. This is where our fear of death will not turn into a fear in death. I am convinced through many different avenues (the story of Stephen when he was stoned, the Scriptures about God gently leading His own, the examples of martyrs who were murdered for their faith, and the testimonies of those who watched their godly loved ones die) that there is a supernatural and spiritual occurrence that happens at the time of our death….while we are in the process of death. Since Jesus conquered death, those of us who trust in Him as our Savior, will be taken to our eternal home. God will be with us in this process and since God is love, and perfect love casts out fear, I believe that the fear in death will not be present. I have never been in death so this is something that I must trust and believe in, just as I trust and believe in Jesus. To worry about all of that now is pointless because I will just have to wait and see, trusting that God will be with me through the passage of death and it will not be fearful.

6. Understanding brings peace.
For me, and I pray for anyone else who has struggled with this fear, understanding that it is okay to be afraid to die is not unspiritual was very comforting. To understand that my worrying about death or the fears that may come at that time, will not add one more minute to my life helped me get my mind away from the worry and remind myself that God has my life…and my death…in His control and I will just have to trust Him with it.

My desire in this post is to encourage anyone who may have faced a fear of death in their life and to get the right biblical perspective in our heads so that we don’t allow fear to rule our lives but to understand it and put it in its place!

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