Why are we so Afraid to Die?


Here’s Why are we so Afraid to Die?

Are you afraid to die? 

Honestly, when I first drafted this article, I was sure that I wasn’t afraid of death – I was just writing to reassure others who were. 

My daughter read that draft and challenged me to prayerfully look beyond my confident claims. The next morning, I was convicted about my attitude as I read the account of the Last Supper when Jesus tells the disciples that they will all fall away. I saw myself in Peter who vehemently insisted that he would willingly die for Jesus, yet hours later denied him when he was afraid. He felt threatened by a servant girl – how much more easily would he have denied Jesus in the face of imminent death?

I saw how easy it is to forget truth in the face of fear. Sometimes I am braver in theory than in reality. 

Fears about death

When I delved into my own fears about death, many were related to feeling helpless. I cannot choose when I’ll die, how I’ll die or even where I’ll die. All that I know is that one day I will die. The fear of knowing I could die any day can be likened to the feeling of walking through a large, empty house with endless rooms. I know that one door will lead to my death, but I don’t know when I’ll open it.

Thinking about death that way can feel terrifying and almost paralyzing. In addition to having no control over it, it can be overwhelming to consider questions like: 

  • Will death be painful?

  • Will I be alone? 

  • How will my death impact my family? 

  • Will my children or spouse or friends abandon faith, or never find it? 

  • What will I miss in their lives? 

  • What if I haven’t finished what I wanted to? 

  • Will I be remembered after I die? 

  • Is heaven real and all that I’ve believed true? If heaven is real, will I love it there?

Questions about faith

While these fears are all legitimate, to counter them I have to address the most important questions of faith since everything else hinges on resolving them. I need to be sure that the Bible is true, heaven is real, and that faith in Christ secures my eternal life with him. As Paul says, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile …and we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Cor 15:17, 19)

In dark moments, I still wonder whether God is real and if faith is all in my head. When I get into that place, rather than pulling away from God, I have learned to go directly to him. To cry out to him and ask him to help my unbelief. I read the Bible to remind myself of God’s promises. I reread old journals to see all the ways and times God has met me. I also read Christian books, listen to sermons, talk to friends who love God and continuously put the things and people and promises of God before me. When I am confident again that Jesus is my Savior and that the Bible is true, I can believe heaven is real.

What will heaven be like

But even knowing the Bible is true, I still have questions about what heaven will be like. I used to imagine it as a place where people sat on clouds playing harps all day — which didn’t sound like an appealing way to spend eternity. It wasn’t until I read a few books about heaven and the new earth, all based on Scripture, that I began to see them as captivating, exciting places. Those books are Heaven by Joni Eareckson Tada, Home by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Heaven by Randy Alcorn. Before reading them, somehow I pictured heaven as a cavernous, cold place where I’d feel small, lonely and intimidated as I entered the vast throne room of God. But now I know that going to heaven will be more like going home. A place where I belong. A place where I am loved, known and cherished. A place where my true longings will be satisfied.

Revelation 21 and 22 also gives us a picture of the new heaven and the new earth, with dazzling beauty and a river of life flowing through it where there will be no tears, no pain, and no sadness. We won’t be tempted or afraid, angry or jealous, selfish or proud and we’ll fully appreciate all of God’s gifts. Food will be more satisfying, music more moving, art more stirring, relationships more fulfilling and joy more complete. Heaven will be better than anything we’ve experienced and as hard as it is to believe, we’ll never miss earth.

What will dying be like

Even as I am certain about how wonderful heaven will be, I can still be afraid of dying. I sometimes wonder whether my death will be painful and whether I will feel alone and scared. 

Stephen, who died an agonizing death by stoning, was probably less aware of the pain and more aware of Jesus’ presence. As he was dying, Stephen “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55) When Stephen saw Jesus standing to welcome him into heaven, his earthly pain must have paled in comparison.

While I may wonder if my faith and strength will fail in the end, I trust God to hold me fast. The God who has been faithful in my life will undoubtedly be faithful in my death. John Scott MacDuff, a Scottish preacher in the 1800’s, said, “My soul, do not dwell with painful apprehension on the future. Do not anticipate coming sorrows; perplexing thyself with the grace needed for future emergencies; tomorrow will bring its promised grace along with tomorrow’s trials… And the strength with which the hour of trial brings often makes the Christian a wonder to himself!” 

What will happen to those we love

My greatest concerns about dying are not related to me, but rather to those I will be leaving behind. It’s painful to think about what will happen to my loved ones after I die. To rest I must entrust and relinquish them to God, the only one who can truly help them, knowing that my love for them is a small fraction of God’s love for them. He will not forget them and he will not forget me, as we are carved on the palms of his hands. (Isaiah 49:15-16).  As I mentioned in the first post of this series, we will live every day that God has planned for us and we know that God will accomplish his purpose for us. 

I want to believe that I will have bold faith in the face of death, but even if I’m terrified, God will still be faithful. These truths will hold true regardless of how I feel. Jesus will walk through every day with me, and one day my eyes will close in death and open to the magnificent reality that I’m in the presence of my Savior, beholding the God whom I have known but never seen. That day I will feel more alive, more vibrant, more joyful and more at home than I ever have on earth. And this will just be the beginning of unending bliss because happily ever after is a blood-bought promise for those of us in Christ. 

source : https://www.vaneetha.com/journal/why-are-we-so-afraid-to-die

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