We often fear what we don’t understand. We fear what we have never experienced before. A common fear nearly all of us struggle with is the fear of death. No one ever comes back from the grave to tell us about their death experience so it remains a great mystery.
My six year old son was about to drift off to sleep the other night when he called out to me, “Daddy, there is a face staring at me from my closet.” I looked in his closet and sure enough, there was an Iron Man mask staring outward. So, I shoved it deeper in his closet and covered it up with some of his other toys and my son drifted off to sleep. The fear of death is the monster in every closet. We don’t want to talk about it or think about it. We prefer to shove it back in the dark recesses of our mind and pretend it’s not there.
We were visiting our friend’s house recently. My wife, Shannon, and I were talking to his elderly mother. Shannon has an uncanny ability to discern when others are troubled. I was surprised when she asked ‘Gran’ if she was alright. Gran replied, “Oh, I’m a little discouraged.” “Why, what’s wrong,” my wife asked. “Well, I took my friend shopping yesterday and she just wasn’t doing so well, you know, forgetful and tired acting.” So I asked her, “How old is your friend?” “Oh, she is 95”, she said in a matter-of-fact manner. “How old are you,” I asked. “I’m only 92,” she boasted. I sensed Gran was denying old age and she seemed to be unfettered by the fear of death.
Death is the shadow in everyone’s future. There are many things we don’t know in life. Some people dedicate their entire lives to the discovery of things we know nothing of. There are so many uncertainties in life, but we are all certain of one thing; “for the living know that they will die.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) But “no man knows when his hour will come.” (9:12)
Man’s first experience with death was perpetrated by Cain. Imagine the pain and horror the first family felt as they witnessed the death of their son, their brother. They were stunned by the solemn realization, as they looked on the dead body of Abel, that “it is appointed unto man once to die.” (Hebrews 9:27) David wrote of this universal fear when he penned Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
When a Christian fears death he is being irrational. A Christian’s belief in the deity of Christ eliminates his fear of death. Jesus didn’t mince any words when it came to proclaiming that he was divine. The Jewish leaders came to him and asked, “Who do you think you are?” (John 8:53) “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” Calling Jesus a Samaritan was the equivalent of using the “N” word in today’s culture. Jesus was willing to risk his life to tell them the truth.
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