FEAR OF DEATH

death-is-a-fearful-thing-quote-1

Shakespeare’s succinct statement readily echoes with our own sentiments. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon while wrestling the issue of meaninglessness points out that everyone dies regardless of who they are and how they live.

2 All share a common destiny–the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good man, so with the sinner; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them. ————-5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. (Ecclesiastes 9)

Not only is death universal, it is also disturbing. It seems to be an end, yet that end is troubling and we are not comfortable with that end— it is as though death is not the end but an abrupt curtailment of what should be. The feeling is not different from what you get when you approach the end of a novel and suddenly find to your dismay that the last chapter has been torn off. The frustration arising from not knowing how the story ended makes the act of reading the novel, in a way, meaningless.

I cannot believe that animals think about and worry about death- perhaps they do not worry about anything at all! They have been given instincts with which to live life by, they don’t rationalize and think like humans. The live life, do what their instincts tell them to do, learn some based on their inputs and finally die- an uncomplicated journey. But being created with an image of God, we humans have a piece of God’s mind- our souls and spirits- that think, rationalize and decide and so we worry about the uncertainty that lays beyond the certainty of death and fear is a by-product.

Unlike animals, man is unique in his ability to perceive the spiritual world because he lives in both worlds- the physical and the unseen spiritual. The latter world is all but invisible and non-existent to those who do not know God. When one receives Jesus as his savior and Lord, the indwelling of God’s Spirit opens up the spiritual world to the believer. And as he progresses in his journey of discipleship, every decision he takes in this physical world has a bearing on his relationship with God and his ability to perceive the spiritual world. So for one who lives in an obedient relationship with God, the spiritual world is as real as the physical world seen around him.

When that happens, the uncertainty of death is taken away. For one who has no perception of the spiritual, the end of the physical life is dreadful. It is like putting off a switch and the extinguishing of the lamp that life is. For one who knows God through Christ, death is not a switching off, rather merely putting a cover over the light that continues to burn, albeit in a different way. In Ecclesiastes, as the author draws to a conclusion, he uses the description, ‘then man goes to his eternal home’ to talk about death. No longer is he throwing his hands up in despair when faced with death, he is now comfortable with the reality of the spirit within man that continues to live in the presence of God after death.

To rephrase Paul in 1 Corinthians, ‘death indeed has been swallowed up in victory through Christ’.

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *