The fear of death haunts a lot of people. There’s a gnawing anxiety that life could end at any moment and it’s upsetting and ultimately leads to unhappiness. Hebrews 2:14, 15 says that Jesus came to earth to “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
It’s God’s will that his people live every day to the fullest, free from any anxiety about dying. He wants to empower us to say with the Apostle Paul, “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).
If you struggle with anxieties about death consider taking the following actions:
Accept the fact that some fear of death is normal and God-given.
The will to live is one of our strongest, God-given instincts. It motivates us to use caution and avoid taking dangerous, unnecessary risks. If anyone tells you they have zero fear of death, they probably aren’t being totally truthful.
On the other hand, an inordinate fear of death is often based on guilt as none of us wants to “fall into the hands of an angry God.” Our fear of death may be God’s way of motivating us to repent of flagrant, willful sin, to humble ourselves before him and seek his forgiveness. In that regard, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).
Take the necessary action to be assured of your forgiveness and eternal salvation.
On the day of Pentecost, the residents of Jerusalem felt convicted of their sin and asked Simon Peter, “What shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
The Bible makes it clear that forgiveness and salvation are not dependent on our good works but on our willingness to humble ourselves and admit we are sinful and then put our trust in Christ’s perfect work for us on the cross. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
Jesus promised, “The one who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25). Once you are confident your sins are washed away by the blood of Christ and your promise of Heaven is secure, death doesn’t seem nearly as threatening.
Review what the Bible says will happen when you die.
When we die, our spirit slips away from the physical body and enters immediately into the presence of God. Jesus told a dying thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
When Christ returns, he will bring the spirits of those who have died and “the dead in Christ will rise” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). At that point we will be given a new glorified body and dwell forever with the Lord. “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1).
It’s been well said, “We are not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We are in the land of the dying, going to the land of the living!”
Imagine the joys of Heaven.
The Bible says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2).
None of us is excited about the process of dying. But think about being welcomed home by Jesus and thanking him for your salvation. Think about the people you anticipate seeing again. Think about the new glorified, pain-free body you will be given. Think about the activities you want to participate in. Think about the worship of God with millions of other believers . . . that will be the most glorious event you’ve ever experienced! Set your mind on the things above and remember, “God is able to do more than we ask or imagine”!
Live in the precious present with the peace of God guarding your heart.
Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
Don’t let worry about dying rob you of the joys and opportunities of this day. Live this moment to the fullest; the Lord will take care of the future. I like the plaque my wife has hanging over our kitchen window. It reminds me of this truth every morning: “Fear not tomorrow. . . God is already there.”
Bob Russell is the retired senior minister of Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky. Copyright 2015 by Bob Russell. Permission to copy this column may be obtained by writing Debbie Carper, Southeast Christian Church, 920 Blankenbaker Pkwy, Louisville, KY 40243. Find Bob’s books and sermons online (www.livingword.org).