Should We Fear Death?
I’m pretty sensitive to my body and what it tells me. When I don’t feel right, I sometimes wonder, “Is this it?” In my past, I looked at death with a lot of fear.
That doesn’t mean I look forward to death, though I confess I have done that too in my life.
What happened though was that I was afraid of death because I didn’t understand how this life works. This existence isn’t the reward. If it’s anything, I’d say it’s a trial.
I’ve been concerned about what would happen to my family or friends. I’ve worried about all the things I’d like to do.
All of those thoughts weren’t fixed on the correct point.
“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:16)
I’m not actually sure how long I could ponder what that one verse means, but I start with the realization that my days are numbered. God knows the exact moment I’m going to die. That means there’s nothing I can do or say to extend those days by a moment.
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27)
There’s something strangely comforting about knowing that I’m going to die exactly when I’m supposed to. I’m not sure this is as comforting to others as it is to me, but allow me to explain my reasoning.
If my death is an event written in the book of life before the very world was formed, then it’ll come exactly when it’s supposed to. This, to me, means that I can focus not on when I’m going to die, but more or how I’m going to live. Instead of exercising so I don’t get sick and die, I can exercise because it will make the quality of my numbered days better. Instead of living in fear of that inevitable day (and even people who don’t believe in God know they’re going to die), I can live making the most of the days I have.
Does this mean “live every day to its fullest?” Well, yes, but not in the way some think. I still don’t needlessly put my life at risk. Nor do I throw my money around because I might die tomorrow. Instead, I can see today as the gift it is.
This can be equally convicting. I only have so much time in my life. I can’t waste it on non-fruitful pursuits. Look, I love playing video games. It actually gives me time with my brother on weekends. However, if I had to choose between playing one more game or hugging my son one more time, I’d of course want that hug.
Some people with the mindset of living their lives to their fullest sadden me because they’re avoiding the very thing that can do that. To each his own. I mean that. But I had a life where I had money. I could go where I want and do what I want. I could have adventures and party till all hours of the morning. I even did that a few times.
I was miserable. Now, I don’t think that “people need romantic love.” That’s nice. I’m glad I have that. But I was more alone than that. I was fixated on promotions and money and status. That objectified people. Not intentionally, but it was the same result. I had all the objects a person could really want. Now, having people I love around me is better.
I’m not a social butterfly. I will never be a person who wants to go to a social gathering. However, intimate, meaningful time with people I love has an even larger importance to me than I thought possible.
Even more so, knowing my days are numbered and the days of my loved ones are equally so, means I only have so many chances to fellowship with them or evangelize to them. Every moment around people is an opportunity to love them in all the best ways.
There is another comfort though. Those who are saved know that though they may die, they will yet live again. Yes, my days on this Earth are numbered, but those days aren’t counting down to the end; they’re counting down the days to perfection, to bliss, and to everlasting joy.
As much as I enjoy this world, the next will be indescribably better. I want tomorrow to have all the people I love and all the gracious gifts I have. I would even appreciate more. However, I want to make sure that I appreciate what I have. I want to treat what God has given me with the respect and care these gracious gifts are.
I don’t long for death, but I think fear is a strong word. It gives me motivation to do more, not for the worthless gain that left me with tons of possession and no love, but for the God I serve and the people I love so much.
So I hope not to fear death, but make the most of the time I have. I hope not to fear a mortal end, but work to ensure the life that comes next is even more full. This is the mindset I’ve currently formed as I grow in Christ.
For our panel: How should Christians see death? How does one balance the inevitability of death with the comfort of eternity? What is the Christian way to live life to the fullest? Does a Christian life mean an absence of any Earthly pleasures or blessings?