Do you ever lie awake at night in fear of dying? Do you stress out when considering the unknown, whether it be an unexpected illness that might overtake you, some kind of pain or turmoil that may suddenly enter your life, or just the idea of facing “the king of terrors” one day? It may provide a little comfort to know that you are not alone. Many taken by the cold grip of death are dragged away in absolute dread (Job 18:14). Even many young and healthy people are terrified by the thought of dying. In “lifelong slavery”, they are petrified by the fear of the unknown and, specifically, the great unknown of death itself (Heb. 2:15). Perhaps, it’s the fact that death is inevitable for us all, if the natural order of things continues as it always has. Perhaps, it is the permanency of death. Our loved ones who have gone before us are unable to return to us again, as much as we may want them to. Perhaps, it is just Satan convincing us of his lies, having planted seeds of doubt into our hearts. The great deceiver stops at nothing to deny whatever God’s word promises and, sadly, he often persuades us to believe his falsehoods. Most people simply refuse to believe God’s promises in the first place, making Satan’s work even easier. Whatever the reason, fear of death is very real and paralyzing. You must overcome it to avoid being “ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:8, NIV).
Contrary to popular opinion, death is not an unknown condition. To fear death is not to fear the unknowable but to fear what is unknown because of ignorance. Jesus Christ tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9). He is the only person to die and return from the grave to never die again because “death no longer has dominion over him” (Rom. 6:9). In the Biblical narrative, some were raised back to life, but no one has been raised immortal (never more to die), except Jesus Christ. Therefore, he stands as the unique authority on matters of life after death. Jesus promises the Christian will “never see death” (Jn. 8:51). He said, “whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (Jn. 11:26). Of course, this is a spiritual promise because Christians do, in fact, face the reality of physical death in this world. We are not exempted from experiencing that kind of death unless the rapture occurs before our physical existence on this earth expires, but we will never face eternal death in hell (cf. 1 Cor. 15:51 – 55; 2 Cor. 5:6 – 9).
God has placed eternity within our hearts (Eccl. 3:11). The concept of eternal life is too big to fully grasp but God accommodates our weak minds by providing simple promises we can understand in our limited condition. It is impossible for fear and faith to exist in the same heart, at the same time. Therefore, God has provided powerful assurances to create courageous faith within us and, as a natural consequence, dispel fear. We have to take hold of this faith in order to fear no evil, as we walk through the dark valley of death (Psa. 23:4). We must surrender our hearts, in absolute trust that he will ransom our souls from the power of death (Psa. 49:15). This is easier said than done because, even though it is simple in concept, it is very hard to give up our trust in the lies of this world and entrust our hearts to the loving promises of God, which are “better than life” (Psa. 63:6). Paul clearly achieved this perfect trust, yearning for a much better life ahead. He said, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Phil. 1:23). He was fully convinced that nothing, not even death, could separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:38 & 39). Amen! – MAH