When something dies we immediately think it’s gone forever, be it a flower or a bumblebee. The word death sounds so permanent. Death sounds like such a scary experience and final end.
Luckily, as Christians, we learn that it is not. With God, we learn we get to live for an eternity.
Even the most secure, devout believer can have occasions where they fear death. It’s hard-wired into our evolution to avoid death, like animals do. It was not a part of God’s original plan for us to die. We were made to be whole and holy, living in paradise in communion with Him. The introduction of death was a necessary response to the admittance of sin into the world. It is a grace that we die. If we didn’t, we would have to live in a sinful world for all eternity.
Here are the specific things that Christians fear about death, and how we can begin to get over our fears with the help of God.
Fear of the Unknown
What does it feel like to die? How will it all play out? Is it like past reports of a bright white light? Or will I be thrown into something scary and dark? Will I feel my soul leave my physical body?
No one knows for certain what it will be like, and these are all valid questions to have. But the Bible does describe what happens. When we leave our body, we are at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8 and Philippians 1:23). We will stay in this state until Christ comes and resurrects the believers (1 Corinthians 15:20–22; 6:14) when we will be given a new, glorified body. We are then given the happiness of an eternity in Heaven.
Fear For Those Left Behind
Death is viewed as separation from the world. For Christians, it means returning to God. However for non-believers, it’s the ultimate separation from Him. With physical death, we will be separted from our loved ones for a time. We can take joy in knowing that if they are also Christians, we will be spending an eternity in Heaven with them. If they are not, we have to accept the fact that they will not be with us. It becomes out duty then to use the time we have with non-believers on earth wisely. We can help try to guide them to God, but ultimately that is their decision. Just as God gives the room to choose, we must also.
Fear of the Act of Dying
Very few of us will know how we die. Some might die quick and painlessly in our sleep, while others may have to go through more excruciating processes. The mystery of it and the inability to prepare can be nerve-wracking. But it is only a moment. When that moment is over, we can claim Philippians 3:20–21: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
Overcoming the Fear of Death
An atheist might say when you die, that’s the absolute end. A Buddhist might say the ultimate goal after death is nirvana. A Muslim says they hope for an eternal paradise with Allah. However the Bible says, in Hebrews 9:27, “And as it’s appointed for men to die once, but after that the judgement.” Jesus is the absolute only way to Heaven. We know, through Him, that we have something real waiting for us.
We should be excited to one day join Him again in Heaven. In the middle of living this life, with these people, in this world, it’s difficult to keep in mind that this is just a temporary condition, and not a very good one at that. First John 2:15–17 says, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” How we remember this is by abiding (1 John 2:24). Staying in the truth of His Word, believing what He says about us and the world around us, will give us the proper perspective regarding this life and the one we will receive.
God does not want us spending our time on earth worrying about what will come next. He wants us to follow His teachings, accept Jesus into our hearts, and enjoy the life we have. Satan likes to whisper worries, doubts, and fear into our ears. However we can continue to turn to God during these times and be reminded of the amazing things that will come for us. Give your anxiety to Him, and you will have nothing to be afraid of.